What is PKCS (Public-Key Cryptography Standards)?

What is PKCS Public-Key Cryptography Standards
PKCS is a collection of specifications and standards for asymmetric cryptography. They were developed by the company RSA Security Inc. and its partners. The goal of the collection is to contribute to the dissemination of asymmetric encryption systems and to promote standardization. The Public-Key Cryptography Standards have been incorporated into various standardizations of the IETF and its PKIX working group.

What is PKCS (Public-Key Cryptography Standards)?

The abbreviation PKCS stands for Public-Key Cryptography Standards. It is a collection of standards and specifications for asymmetric encryption systems. The standards were developed from the year 1991 by the US company RSA Security Inc. and some partners. RSA is named after its founders Ronald L. Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adleman and is a subsidiary of Dell Technologies specializing in IT security.

The aim of the documents is to contribute to the spread of asymmetric encryption systems based on the public key method and to promote their standardization. The specifications are used, for example, for digital signatures and certificates.

Some of the published documents have been incorporated into various standardizations of the IETF and its PKIX working group. In total, the collection is divided into 15 different individual areas. Contents include formats for the Diffie-Hellman method, the RSA method, and the syntax for digital signatures.

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The 15 Public-Key Cryptography Standards

The following is a brief overview of the 15 different sections of the Public-Key Cryptography Standards and their respective contents:

  • Public-Key Cryptography Standard #1: RSA Methods – Public-key methods based on the RSA algorithm – Mechanisms for signing and encrypting data.
  • Public-Key Cryptography Standard #2: missing – was merged with PKCS #1 and withdrawn.
  • Public-Key Cryptography Standard #3: Diffie-Hellman key exchange standard – description of the necessary data exchange formats.
  • Public-Key Cryptography Standard #4: missing – was merged with PKCS #1 and withdrawn.
  • Public-Key Cryptography Standard #5: Recommendations for implementing password-based encryption – deriving encryption from the password.
  • Public-Key Cryptography Standard #6: Extended-Certificate Syntax Standard – Description of the syntax for extended certificates and their attributes.
  • Public-Key Cryptography Standard #7: Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) – cryptographic formats for encrypted and signed messages (used as syntax for S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions), among others).
  • Public-Key Cryptography Standard #8: Private-Key Information Syntax – standard for describing the syntax of a private key and its attributes.
  • Public-Key Cryptography Standard #9: Standard describing attributes of extended certificates as used in PKCS standards 7, 8, 10, 12, or 15.
  • Public-Key Cryptography Standard #10: Certification Request Syntax – Standard describing the syntax of public key certification requests.
  • Public-Key Cryptography Standard #11: Cryptographic Token Interface – Standard specifying an interface for hardware modules used to transmit cryptographic information (Cryptoki).
  • Public-Key Cryptography Standard #12: Personal Information Exchange Syntax – Standard describing the syntax of a portable format for private keys and certificates.
  • Public-Key Cryptography Standard #13: Standard describing the Elliptic Curve Cryptosystem (ECC) and its parameters.
  • Public-Key Cryptography Standard #14: Pseudo Random Number Generation (PRNG) standard – still under development or partially discontinued.
  • Public-Key Cryptography Standard #15: Cryptographic Token Information Format – Standard describing the format of cryptographic tokens.
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