vb.net code 39 reader Using the Digital Envelope for Key Recovery in Software

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Using the Digital Envelope for Key Recovery
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If you lose your car key, you can often call a dealer in the area who can make a new one. If you lose your house key, you can call a locksmith who can create a new one. If you lose a cryptographic key, there s no one to call. It s gone. That s why many companies implement a key recovery plan. When Pao-Chi generates a symmetric key to encrypt his files or generates a public/private key pair to be used for key distribution, he stores the symmetric and private keys in such a way that only he can recover them. If he has a key recovery plan, though, he also creates copies of the keys and stores them in such a way that someone else can recover them. In addition, it is possible to store them so that it takes more than one person to recover the keys. In that way, no one single individual can surreptitiously recover the keys and examine Pao-Chi s secret information. The most common form of key recovery is the RSA digital envelope. PaoChi has a software program that encrypts his files. It generates a symmetric session key and uses that key to encrypt each file. He then stores that key securely, possibly using PBE or a token. At the time the session key is generated, he also encrypts it using the key recovery RSA public key
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(see Figure 4-24). This arrangement is essentially a digital envelope. If Pao-Chi loses his key, the owner of the key recovery private key can open the digital envelope and retrieve Pao-Chi s encrypting session key. There are three basic entities that can act as a key recovery agent:
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A trusted third party A group of trustees, each holding a portion of the key A group of trustees using a threshold scheme
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Figure 4-24 Pao-Chi encrypts his session key with the key recovery public key, storing that digital envelope for emergencies
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Key Recovery via a Trusted Third Party
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Earlier in this chapter in the section titled Using a Trusted Third Party, you met Michelle, a TTP who creates session keys for Gwen and Pao-Chi. Now Michelle is going to be their key recovery agent. Michelle generates her RSA key pair and distributes the public key to each individual who will participate in the key recovery program. Pao-Chi s software, for example, can have that public key built-in. When he generates his keys (the session key or public/private key pair), he encrypts them with this public key. He could send this digital envelope to Michelle, but he probably prefers to keep it himself. In that way, Michelle cannot open the envelope without his knowledge. Michelle is a trusted third party, but Pao-Chi s trust in her has some limit. Hence, he will probably store the digital envelope on a floppy disk and keep the disk in his locked desk drawer. Then if Pao-Chi forgets a password, loses his smart card, has a hard drive failure, and so on, and needs to recover a key, he takes the digital envelope to Michelle. She opens it using her RSA private key and gives Pao-Chi the output, namely his key. After he uses the key, Pao-Chi again protects the key.
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The Key Distribution Problem and Public-Key Cryptography
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The Difference Between Key Recovery and Key Escrow
Many elements of cryptography go by different names. There s symmetric-key crypto, which is also known as secret-key crypto. Asymmetric-key crypto also goes by the name of public-key crypto, and the terms message digest and hash (see 5) are often interchangeable. Now we come to an area of crypto-key recovery and key escrow in which two terms appear to describe the same thing but are actually significantly different. Key recovery and key escrow are not the same thing. Key recovery is a method that s implemented to restore keys that get lost. Key escrow is the practice of giving keys to a third party so that the third party can read sensitive material on demand. Key escrow is almost always used to describe a way for governments to obtain keys in order to collect evidence for investigations. Consider the analogy of your house key. With key recovery, if you lose your key, you hire a locksmith to create a new one. With key escrow, the day you buy the house, you surrender a copy of the key to the police so that they can enter your house when they want to, possibly without your knowledge. This book is not concerned with the political or practical implications of key escrow. It is our intention only to point out the difference between the two terms. The actual techniques used to implement key recovery and proposed key escrow plans are often the same. So for the rest of this chapter, we describe key recovery schemes.
The advantage of this system is that recovering the key is easy. The disadvantage is that Michelle has access to all the keys. It is possible for her to recover keys without anyone s knowledge. Another disadvantage is that Pao-Chi must depend on Michelle. What does he do when she is away on vacation What does the company do if she leaves for another job In that case, the company will have to get a new TTP, generate a new key recovery key pair, distribute the new public key, and have everyone create new digital envelopes with all their keys.
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