Certificate Distribution Proves a Vexing Problem

Thursday, 28 November 2002, 2:18 PM EST

I'm at the beginning of a project to rework my company's homegrown public-key infrastructure (PKI). Specifically, we want a system that will let us reissue keys as they expire without inflicting a lot of pain on users and administrators. We're looking at several different products. But even when we find the right certificate authority, we'll still need a way to get the right keys to the right users. This week, I'm working on coming up with a better certificate-delivery mechanism.

Historically, we've e-mailed certificates to users in an encrypted attachment. But now, with everyone worried about e-mail-borne viruses and worms, we have to send these attachments through firewalls, and that's very difficult. We need to secure e-mail standards or use another method.

We decided to evaluate several different approaches and set up conference calls with vendors to discuss product details.

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