A public-key infrastructure (PKI) is a set of hardware, software, people, policies, and procedures needed to create, manage, distribute, use, store, and revoke digital certificates. In cryptography, a PKI is an arrangement that binds public keys with respective user identities by means of a ...

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717
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3answers
368k views

How does SSL/TLS work?

How does SSL work? I just realised we don't actually have a definitive answer here, and it's something worth covering. I'd like to see details in terms of: A high level description of the protocol....
184
votes
7answers
26k views

How do certification authorities store their private root keys?

Knowledge of a CA private key would allow MitM attackers to transparently supplant any certificates signed by that private key. It would also allow cyber criminals to start forging their own trusted ...
147
votes
5answers
104k views

What is certificate pinning?

I'm superficially familiar with SSL and what certs do. Recently I saw some discussion on cert pinning but there wasn't a definition. A DDG search didn't turn up anything useful. What is certificate ...
79
votes
2answers
6k views

How are private keys kept private?

This may sound like a stupid question but seriously how are private keys kept private? If you're someone like Google you have some huge number of servers to which the public can establish secure ...
75
votes
10answers
22k views

Why do we not trust an SSL certificate that expired recently?

Every SSL certificate has an expiration date. Now suppose some site's certificate expired an hour ago or a day ago. All the software by default will either just refuse to connect to the site or issue ...
71
votes
4answers
62k views

What is the difference between an x.509 “client certificate” and a normal SSL certificate?

I am setting up a web service through which my company will talk to a number of business customers' services. We will be exchanging information using SOAP. I would like to handle authentication with ...
70
votes
7answers
77k views

Certificate based authentication vs Username and Password authentication

What are the advantages and drawbacks of the certificate based authentication over username and password authentication? I know some, but I would appreciate a structured and detailed answer. UPDATE ...
68
votes
12answers
9k views

How feasible is it for a CA to be hacked? Which default trusted root certificates should I remove?

This question has been revised & clarified significantly since the original version. If we look at each trusted certificate in my Trusted Root store, how much should I trust them? What factors ...
59
votes
3answers
5k views

Why aren't IMSI catchers rendered ineffective by standard MITM defenses?

There's been a lot of reporting in the past few years about law enforcement agencies using IMSI catchers (also known as Stingrays after a popular brand of them) to intercept cellular communications. ...
53
votes
2answers
4k views

Why does Windows Ship with Expired SSL Certificates?

I am cleaning up the certificate stores on my Windows machines, and considering which certificates I should keep, and which ones I should delete. Why does a fresh install of Windows Server 2012 R2 ...
50
votes
4answers
5k views

Can I sign a single character message with the RSA private key?

If I sign a very short message (0 or 1) with my private key (and the receiving side verifies the signature using public key), is this less secure than to send the sufficiently long signed message?
44
votes
7answers
17k views

Why can't you work backwards with public key to decrypt a message?

As the title suggests, I am curious to know why you can't work backwards using a message, public key and encrypted message to work out how to decrypt the message! I don't understand how a message can ...
39
votes
4answers
31k views

How does PGP differ from S/MIME?

Is S/MIME an abstracted system for general MIME type encryption, whereas PGP is more for email? Why would I want to choose one over the other, or can I use both at the same time?
38
votes
3answers
26k views

What are the risks of self signing a certificate for SSL

Let's say I sign a SSL certificate for myself, and I'm not using a certified CA. What are the risks and/or threats of doing it?
38
votes
4answers
7k views

What alternatives are there to the existing Certificate Authority system for SSL?

Whilst the current CA system works very well for a lot of people, it does put a lot of power into individual CAs' hands, and makes a CA hack potentially devastating for customers and business. What ...
34
votes
7answers
4k views

How dangerous might be publishing a public key?

Maybe this question sounds obvious, but I wonder how dangerous might be publishing a public key for an asymmetric encryption system? I know public keys are meant for encrypting messages by anyone who'...
34
votes
4answers
5k views

What's the common pragmatic strategy for managing key pairs?

I have a small number of different workstations (plus client devices like iPhone) that I use for to connecting to numerous servers using SSH. Originally when I learned about PKI, I created a single ...
32
votes
3answers
3k views

What is an SSL certificate intended to prove, and how does it do it?

If I get an SSL certificate from a well-known provider, what does that prove about my site and how? Here's what I know: Assume Alice and Bob both have public and private keys If Alice encrypts ...
31
votes
4answers
13k views

Are there technical disadvantages in using free ssl certificates?

Note this question is related, except this one is about free SSL certs. There are providers who are offering totally free entry-level SSL certs (like StartSSL). I was wondering if they are ...
29
votes
4answers
26k views

How to achieve non-repudiation?

If I have a message that I need to send to another person, how do I achieve non repudiation ? Is digitally signing the message sufficient ?
28
votes
4answers
42k views

Expired SSL Certificate Implications

What are the security implications of an expired SSL certificate? For example if an SSL certificate from a trusted CA has expired will the communication channel continue to remain secure?
27
votes
1answer
53k views

Can a CSR be created in OpenSSL with SHA2?

Can a CSR be created in OpenSSL with SHA2? If so, what would the command be and what does this tell the CA, if anything? If you could create a CSR using SHA2 would it "tell" the signing CA to use it ...
26
votes
4answers
39k views

how digital signature verification process works

I am not able to understand that how the digital signature is verified. I know that digital signature will be attached to the message and sent by sender to receiver. then receiver uses the public key ...
26
votes
2answers
13k views

How to set up OpenSSH to use x509 PKI for authentication?

I do not mean simply putting the public RSA key of a x.509 certificate into ~/.ssh/authorized_keys - I'm looking for a way to set up a ssh such that x.509 certificates signed by a pre-defined CA will ...
25
votes
2answers
12k views

How does RSA encryption compare to PGP?

On this answer ck says RSA and PGP are different. What you are essentially asking is how do I run my petrol car on diesel? The answer is you can't. I would be interested in a more ...
24
votes
3answers
1k views

A Different Approach to PKI

After yet another failure of the public key infrastructure, I was thinking about how broken the whole thing is. This business of undeniably associating an identity with a public key, and all the work ...
24
votes
5answers
4k views

Why is Bruce Schneier recommending symmetric crypto over public key crypto

I just read the article written by Bruce Schneier, the crypto guru. In the article, he says : Prefer symmetric cryptography over public-key cryptography. But, he doesn't shed any light as to why....
23
votes
5answers
5k views

Are self-signed certificates actually more secure than CA signed certificates now?

Are self-signed certificates actually more secure than CA signed certificates now? I ask this because recent leaks about the NSA spy programs and the secret FISA courts mean that the US government ...
22
votes
7answers
3k views

Is there such a thing as public key steganography

One of the drawbacks of traditional steganography is that both parties need to exchange a secret key. Encryption had this problem too but circumvented this with public key cryptography. Are there ...
22
votes
8answers
4k views

Can a HTTPS connection be compromised because of a rogue DNS server

If I'm visiting (just a desktop PC, client side) a site that has a valid HTTPS cert/connection, that can it be compromised if I'm using a rogue DNS server (not deliberately, I'm concerned about an ...
22
votes
6answers
3k views

Shouldn't GPG key fetching use a secure connection?

If I run this for example: gpg --keyserver hkp://keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 0xFBB75451 then does the importing occur in a secure way? I mean does it go over only secured connections? (HKP?) ...
22
votes
3answers
6k views

Why do PGP master keys only have a single subkey, and tie certification with signing by default?

After learning more about PGP subkeys and how to split apart the roles of (S)igning, (E)ncryption, (A)uthentication and (C)ertification, I discovered that in most cases(?) a default master key has a ...
21
votes
4answers
2k views

Cloudflare's free SSL options require trusting them; what could they do to change that?

Cloudflare offers 3 free SSL options: Flexible SSL, Full SSL, and Full Strict SSL. The article “CloudFlare’s great new features and why I won’t use them” explores the shortcomings of the Flexible and ...
21
votes
2answers
3k views

Which SSH security is stronger? 2 Factor or Public key

For SSH authentication, which is more secure? 2 Factor Authentication using a USB token/Google Authenticator(time based) OR Public/private key with password Or could they be both used at the same ...
21
votes
1answer
16k views

4096 bit RSA encryption keys vs 2048

Where do 4096 bit RSA keys for SSL certs currently stand in terms of things like CA support, browser support, etc? In the overall scheme of things is the increased security worth the risk of 4096 bit ...
20
votes
5answers
5k views

When can I commit a Private Key to source control?

That is to say, in what cases does it make sense to commit an unencrypted keypair to internal source control like SVN or Git? Related question that discusses an encrypted private key: Is it bad ...
19
votes
4answers
15k views

Checklist on building an Offline Root & Intermediate Certificate Authority (CA)

Microsoft allows a CA to use Cryptography Next Generation (CNG) and advises of incompatibility issues for clients that do not support this suite. Here is an image of the default cryptography settings ...
19
votes
3answers
5k views

Computationally simple, lightweight replacement for SSL/TLS

Target hardware is a rather low-powered MCU (ARM Cortex-M3 @72MHz, with just about 64KB SRAM and 256KB flash), so walking the thin line here. My board does have ethernet, and I will eventually get ...
19
votes
2answers
18k views

Can I add a password to an existing private key?

Say I have previously created a private/public key combination, and decided at the time to not protect the private key with a password. If I later decide to "beef up" security and use a password-...
19
votes
4answers
25k views

How are Chrome and Firefox validating SSL Certificates?

How are Chrome and Firefox validating SSL Certificates? Are they requesting data from an SSL certification website, like GeoTrust, to validate the certificate received from the web server?
18
votes
3answers
4k views

Anything to do about old gpg keys?

Quite A few years ago (in middle school) I created some gpg keys, published them to a keyserver, etc. because I was l33test kid on the block. Now I have gone through a few new computers and OS's, etc....
17
votes
3answers
3k views

What happens when an Intermediate CA is revoked?

Currently I'm working on a certificate manager that allows our product to securely connect to remote webservices (over TLS/SSL). For security, we use Certificate Revocation List checking (or CRL-...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

Is there any reason someone wouldn't use a longer key?

Larger key sizes are said to be more difficult to bruteforce; is there any reason someone would then decide to instead use a smaller key? Is there any negative effect in using a larger key size, such ...
17
votes
9answers
8k views

How does SSL/TLS PKI work?

We have lots of questions that address portions of SSL/TLS as it relates to PKI, but none of them seem to bring everything together. A canonical answer that we can point people to I think would be ...
17
votes
4answers
33k views

how to import a private key in windows

Say I have an X.509 cert and a private key that corresponds to it. I can import X.509 certs easily enough into Windows but what about private keys? Is the only way I can do that by converting both ...
16
votes
4answers
3k views

Is it dangerous to publicly share ciphertext?

Alice wants to share a message with Bob, but Alice and Bob can never be in the same place at the same time. We can assume they both know each others public keys (or agreed on a shared key, if that ...
16
votes
3answers
3k views

How to check if an SSH private key has passphrase or not?

Let's say I have access to the private portion of an RSA key-pair. How can I check if this key has associated passphrase or not?
16
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is it more secure to use intermediate CA certificates?

I've read that using Intermediate CA certificates is more secure because this way the Root CA is offline. So, if the Intermediate is compromised it does not impact the Root CA. What I understand is ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

Encryption and the “security time decay” of prior encrypted data

This question is on the assumption that any data once encrypted, may (eventually) be decrypted through Brute force (compute power/time) Exploits in the cryptography used Theft of private keys ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

Creating my own CA for an intranet

I need to create my own CA for an intranet and unfortunately it seems there's no good answer about this on Security.SE. There are many resources online about this, but all of them are different and ...