Encryption requires high levels of cryptography and secrecy. Often encryption aids in the transfer of data from one point to another, safeguarding the data lest it is intercepted or falls into the wrong hands.
Encryption is most commonly used on documents and messages before they’re transmitted, but if the recipient of the information cannot verify its source or the identity of the sender, the authenticity of the information may not be trustworthy.
This is the primary reason for the use of keys when decrypting data. Keys are shared between the sender and receiver of encrypted communications and verified by digital certificates in order to establish the integrity of any incoming information.
In the world of data encryption and decryption, there are typically two kinds of keys, private keys, and public keys. Private keys are when both the sender and recipient of the information have an identical key that allows for the translation of the incoming data. In cases of private keys, both parties must make efforts to keep the key secret and safeguarded –– which can become challenging when more than two keys are involved.
That’s where public keys come in useful. Used more often today, public keys can be used to encode information and a private key is required to decrypt it. A good example of this would be credit card usage. While a credit card company may provide an authorization device with a key that is readily available, customers must input a pin that allows the machine to decrypt their information, making the sharing of sensitive financial data more regulated and secure.
Public keys are the basis for a Public Key Infrastructure when decrypting highly-sensitive data. PKIs enable the use of digital signatures and encryption across large user sets. The Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is the set of hardware, software, policies, processes, and procedures required to create, manage, distribute, use, store, and revoke digital certificates and public-keys.
Often they help establish the identity of people and devices, enabling controlled access to systems and resources, protecting data and authenticating transactions. Many of today’s emerging technologies, especially within the fintech space, are becoming more and more reliant on PKI technology to guarantee security and protection of sensitive data.