java barcode reader library free Determining Identity: Digital Certificates in Software

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9 Determining Identity: Digital Certificates
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How Digital Certificates Work
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One of the most common uses of digital certificates is to validate a digital signature The following steps describe the process of digitally signing a document and validating the signature on the receiving end Premise: The sender of a message wants to prove his or her identity to the recipient, and further guarantee that the message hasn t been tampered with en-route 1 The sender obtains a digital certificate This contains identifying information, including the sender s public key The certificate can also include personal identification data such as name and address information One or more trusted third parties sign the certificate and attach their signature to the certificate The signing process for the certificate is similar to the process for signing a message Just change the word message to certificate data Steps 2 and 3 explain how a certificate is signed 2 A mathematical process known as a hashing function is applied to the message The result is called the hash value If the message is altered, the hash value of the altered message will not match the value of the original message For example, a simple hash function might extract every fifth letter of a message If the message were The eagle flies at dawn tomorrow, the hash value would be alttr If the message were changed to The eagle lands at dawn tomorrow, the hash value would become aattr In practice, extracting the fifth letter is not a good hash function because it s too easy to alter the message in ways that would not affect the hash value Case in point: Hot bagel flips at nude terror has the same hash value ( alttr ) as the original message Real hash functions use much more complex systems, and changing just a single letter within the message will affect the hash value 3 The hash value is encrypted The encryption is performed using the sender s private key and the public key of the recipient (for additional security) In some cases, a shared secret key is used instead of public or private key encryption 4 The message is now sent, along with a copy of the encrypted hash value (the signature) and possibly a copy of the sender s digital certificate
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118 Network Security Illustrated 5 The recipient obtains the message In order to validate the signature, the recipient also needs to have the sender s digital certificate If it was not included with the message, it can be obtained from a certificate authority or certificate server 6 When the certificate is presented, the recipient verifies the certificate by using the trusted third party s public verification key to decrypt the certificate signature The result is the hash value of the certificate data The recipient runs the same hash function on the certificate data and compares the decrypted hash value with the calculated value If the two match, the certificate is valid and the identity of the sender has been proven 7 Finally, the public key included with the certificate and the recipient s private key are used to decrypt the message signature The result is the hash value of the original message The recipient runs the same hash function on the received message If the identifiers match, the recipient knows that the message has not been tampered with during transit (see Figure 9-1)
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Some knowledge is needed to truly understand certificates Most people don t have enough interest in security to bother learning the intricacies of certificate exchanges, but incorrectly using them can be worse than not using them at all The false sense of security and trust can be easily exploited
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