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<*cryptography, standard*> (PKCS) A set of standards for
public-key cryptography, developed by RSA Data Security,
Inc. in cooperation with an informal consortium, originally
including Apple, Microsoft, DEC, Lotus, Sun and
MIT. The PKCS have been cited by the OSI Implementers'
Workshop (OIW) as a method for implementation of OSI
standards.

PKCS includes both algorithm-specific and algorithm-independent implementation standards. Many algorithms are supported, including RSA and Diffie-Hellman key exchange, however, only the latter two are specifically detailed. PKCS also defines an algorithm-independent syntax for digital signatures, digital envelopes, and extended digital certificates; this enables someone implementing any cryptographic algorithm whatsoever to conform to a standard syntax, and thus achieve interoperability.

E-mail: pkcs@rsa.com.

Last updated: 1999-02-16

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<*cryptography*> (PKE, Or "public-key cryptography") An
encryption scheme, introduced by Diffie and Hellman in 1976,
where each person gets a pair of keys, called the public key
and the private key. Each person's public key is published
while the private key is kept secret. Messages are encrypted
using the intended recipient's public key and can only be
decrypted using his private key. This is often used in
conjunction with a digital signature.

The need for sender and receiver to share secret information (keys) via some secure channel is eliminated: all communications involve only public keys, and no private key is ever transmitted or shared.

Public-key encryption can be used for authentication, confidentiality, integrity and non-repudiation.

RSA encryption is an example of a public-key cryptosystem.

See also knapsack problem.

Last updated: 1995-03-27

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<*cryptography, communications*> (PKI) A system of public key
encryption using digital certificates from Certificate
Authorities and other registration authorities that verify
and authenticate the validity of each party involved in an
electronic transaction.

PKIs are currently evolving and there is no single PKI nor even a single agreed-upon standard for setting up a PKI. However, nearly everyone agrees that reliable PKIs are necessary before electronic commerce can become widespread.

Last updated: 1999-11-30

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Copyright Denis Howe 1985