- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 13, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0471397024
- ISBN-13: 978-0471397021
- Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 1.1 x 9.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,035,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Planning for PKI: Best Practices Guide for Deploying Public Key Infrastructure 1st Edition
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"Rather than being an abstract academic text, the authors, Russ Housley and Tim Polk, write from years of practical experience. Housley is the Chief Scientist for Spyrus, and Polk is the technical lead for PKI at NIST. At a little over 300 pages, Planning for PKI is a valuable reference to the workings of PKI."
--Ben Rothke; UnixReview.com (5/7/01)
From the Back Cover
An in-depth technical guide to the security technology driving Internet e-commerce.
"Planning for PKI" examines this cornerstone Internet security technology. Written by two of the architects of the Internet PKI standards, this book provides authoritative technical guidance for network engineers, architects, and managers who need to implement the right PKI architecture for their organization. Readers will learn that building a successful PKI is an on going process, not a one-time event. The authors discuss results and lessons learned from three early PKI deployments, helping readers avoid the pitfalls and emulate the successes of early PKI adopters.
Using plain and direct language, the authors share their extensive knowledge of PKI standards development in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and elsewhere. Subtle points about the Internet PKI standards are liberally sprinkled throughout the book. These nuggets provide insight into the intent of some of the esoteric topics in the standards, enabling greater interoperability.
"Planning for PKI" gathers the PKI state-of-the-art into one volume, covering everything from PKI history to emerging PKI-related technologies.
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While there are nearly 4,000 times as many books about dieting as there are books about PKI, the similarities between the two subjects are interesting. Both dieting and PKI are often difficult to do right, but when they are done correctly, the positive effects are immense.
In a nutshell, a PKI is a set of technologies that enables users of inherently insecure networks and software applications (i.e., the Internet and browsers) to exchange data and perform transactions securely and privately. In a PKI, each user has a set of cryptographic keys comprised of a public-key and a private-key. A PKI also enables the use of a digital certificate that can be used to identify items such as individual end users, host systems, organizations, and directory services. PKI is based on public key cryptography, which is the most common method used to authenticate the sender of a message, or to encrypt that message.
A PKI establishes digital trust and maintains that level of assurance. In the real world, trust is built through a complex web of social, legal, national, international, and business interactions that may take years or decades to develop. Unfortunately, that same level of trust is much harder to implement in the electronic world.
With that in mind, Planning for PKI: Best Practices Guide for Deploying Public Key Infrastructure provides a thorough technical introduction to the workings of PKI. Those wanting a less technical and more managerial approach should read PKI: Implementing & Managing E-Security by Andrew Nash.
The reason that PKI is so important is that information security is often the most fundamental need for today's businesses and e-commerce sites. There is hardly a Fortune 500 company without some type of external public connection, and given that more than 95% of the hosts on the Internet are running TCP/IP version 4 (with no inherent security), these systems are built and running on an insecure infrastructure. Such a reality is a scary thought.
The book is well organized into six sections. The first three chapters cover the basics and rudiments of security, cryptography, and PKI. Fortunately, the authors accomplish this by page 43. One of my personal gripes against many information security books is that they spend way too much time rehashing security basics, while not getting to the subject title until halfway through the book.
Section Two includes seven chapters detailing the different PKI components, protocols, architectures, and uses of digital certificates. Many of those considering PKI do not always realize that the "I" in PKI is infrastructure. Without a well-thought out and tested architecture and methodology, a PKI is nearly sure to fail. Getting the initial PKI software rolled out is often not an easy endeavor. Getting those pieces to work effectively in a distributed infrastructure takes an immense amount of planning and work. Section Two details ways to ensure that a PKI is well built, so that it does not collapse like a poorly designed building.
Chapter 12, "Policies, Procedures and PKI," is one of the most important chapters in the book, in that a PKI comprises much more than simply its underlying software. The book astutely notes that the technical mechanisms of a PKI are insufficient on their own, as they must be used in combination with a set of procedures to implement a particular corporate security policy.
The need for policy can't be over-emphasized, as it is a critical element in the effective and successful operation of a PKI. A PKI can't be effective unless it is deployed in the context of working policies that govern the use, administration, and management of certificates. In a similar vein, noted security guru Marcus Ranum defines a firewall as "the implementation of your Internet security policy. If you haven't got a security policy, you haven't got a firewall. Instead, you've got a thing that's sort of doing something, but you don't know what it's trying to do because no one has told you what it should do". So, too, with a PKI; if there are no policies to determine its appropriate use, inertia states that it will not be used properly.
Rather than being an abstract and dry guide, Planning for PKI: Best Practices Guide for Deploying Public Key Infrastructure concludes with some real-world examples of PKI rollouts. By learning how the three large PKI projects were implemented, readers can benefit from the lessons learned, so that they will not make the same (often common) mistakes.
Rather than being an abstract academic text, the authors, Russ Housley and Tim Polk, write from years of practical experience. Housley is the Chief Scientist for Spyrus, and Polk is the technical lead for PKI at NIST.
This review of mine originally appeared at ..../articles/2001/0104/0104m/0104m.htm
At a little over 300 pages, Planning for PKI: Best Practices Guide for Deploying Public Key Infrastructure is a valuable reference to the workings of PKI.
Novices to PKI will gain an understanding of the many issues that exist in deploying and employing a PKI. The book makes no assumption about the reader's technical knowledge level, providing a brief introduction to the underlying cryptography, policy issues, and motivation for the use of PKI.
Planners and system architects will learn about the crucial points that make the difference between a successful deployment of a PKI and one that only yields many lessons learned. In fact, "Planning for PKI" gives several concrete examples of existing PKI deployments and lists the lessons learned from those deployments. This is a real advantage for future deployments, allowing much time to be saved. The lessons learned alone are worth more than the price of the book.
Software developers will also find this book useful. In a single volume, it gathers the authors extensive knowledge of the PKI standards development in the IETF and elsewhere. Many subtle points about the PKIX RFCs are liberally sprinkled throughout the book. These nuggets provide insight into the intent of some of the esoteric topics in the RFCs and can assist the developer in producing an interoperable product or deployment.
The language used in the book is plain and direct. Where useful, simple diagrams and ASN.1 fragments are given. The ASN.1 fragments are well-annotated so that an understanding of ASN.1 is not required to comprehend what is being presented. (And for those interested in ASN.1, there is a brief primer in the back of the book.)
The real value of the book is the succinct (relative to the actual PKI standards and body of literature) gathering of the current state-of-the art in PKI into one tome. It covers the gamut from PKI history to future developments. Appropriate and accessible to a wide range of readers, "Planning for PKI" gets my hearty endorsement.
In some of the later chapters there are some in depth example of the Federal Government and Power Utilities implementing PKI. One of the persistent 'Lessons Learned' was to use 509v3 Certificates. Most of the examples didn't use them, at least not exclusivly. This beggs the qeustion why. In their own way the authors tell you in the conclusions. 'The field is very young.' Given the author is 'basically the man' when it comes to PKI infrastructures and the organizations putting in PKI are Powercompanies, Military, and Government (people who should really, really, be concerned about having non-authorized use of their systems) one has to wonder how many regular type organizations are really interested in getting themselves in the middle of this rapidly changing technology.
I can say after reading this book my feelings about implementing PKI have shifted very much towards not doing it. If you are considering implementing PKI, I would highly reccomend you read this book and think about the real ramifications of doing so.