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Key Management

distribution algorithm keys encryption

Definition: Key management refers to an encryption algorithm and deals with the secure generation, distribution, storage, and disposal of keys.

The security of an encryption algorithm often depends on the strength of the encryption algorithm and the key two factors. In practice, most attacks on public-key systems are targeted at the key management level instead of the cryptographic algorithm itself. When a key is compromised, the entire system maybe compromised. Hence it is extremely important to secure the keys. This is the task of key management.

Key management deals with the secure generation, distribution, storage, and disposal of keys. In other words, one must be able to get the key/s for the targeted application with the targeted security and efficiency requirement; the key/s must be stored securely so that no intruders can get it; legitimate users must be able to acquire the key/s for legitimate uses; and the lost or compromised keys are ready to be replaced and made aware to the legitimate users.

Many key management schemes have been developed. For example, manual key distribution, center-based key distribution, and certificate-based key distribution systems are widely used.

In recent years, multicast (communication that allows multiple receivers to simultaneously receive the same transmission,) key management schemes have been studied extensively. Many multicast key management schemes have been proposed. Interested readers can reference the paper by Eskicioglu, RFC2627 by Wallner, et al., and the IETF Internet Draft by Dondeti, et al. for more information.

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