A PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) certificate is a security mechanism that enables a user to combine his digital signature with a particular public key and a piece of information that would identify him. An example of the said piece of information is the user’s full name. Individuals use PKI certificates to let them show that they do own a specific public key.
The digital signature is a core component of a PKI certificate. Other groups and persons refer to the digital signature to verify that the public key holder truly owns the said document. The digital signature can be made by either the person who is creating the PKI certificate, an endorser of the public key, or the individual or group that has the authority to sign PKI certificates.
PKI certificates are an application of several technologies. one of which is the cryptographic key authentication. A cryptographic key is a value used in a cryptographic process such as data encryption. This application of PKI certificates is more useful in larger networks than in smaller ones.
A PKI certificate helps to eliminate problems in business transactions. Here is a sample situation to demonstrate this: Person A wishes to establish a business relationship with Person B. Person A does this by publishing his public key. This also lets Person A send and receive data from Person B. However, a problem arises when a third person poses as Person A and sends information which Person A does not wish to send. Through its intricate levels of personal identification, a PKI certificate would prevent such an event from taking place. Person B can refer to the PKI certificate shown in each data transfer to verify that he is indeed communicating with Person A.
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