An Introduction to the Windows 2000 Public Key Infrastructure contains:

Summary

Public-key cryptography is a key technology for e-commerce, intranets, extranets, and other web-enabled applications. However, to garner the benefits of public-key cryptography, a supporting infrastructure is needed. The Windows® 2000 operating system includes a native public-key infrastructure (PKI) that is designed from the ground up to take full advantage of the Windows 2000 security architecture. This paper describes the fundamentals of public-key security systems, including what benefits they offer and what components are required to implement them. It also describes how the Windows 2000 PKI components deliver needed services while providing interoperability, security, flexibility, and ease-of-use.

Public key cryptography offers significant security benefits when it's properly implemented. Like other enabling technologies, public-key cryptography requires an infrastructure to deliver its benefits. However, the public key infrastructure, or PKI, isn't a physical object or software process; instead, it's a set of useful services provided by a collection of interconnected components. These components work together to provide public key-based security services to applications and users.

This white paper has two goals: to explain public key technology and its uses, and to describe the features and benefits provided by the native PKI in the Windows® 2000 operating system. Understanding both of these topics will help you to decide where you can use PKI technology to improve your business processes and increase your ability to securely handle transactions with others.

In this paper, you'll learn what a public key infrastructure is, what desirable benefits it can offer your operations, and how the Windows 2000 PKI delivers interoperability, security, flexibility, and ease of use. This paper focuses on the business benefits of the Windows 2000 PKI.