How To Build Your Own PKI: A Detailed Guide–PRIORITY


The enterprise infrastructure is expanding and changing regularly. This means that it is vital for organizations to have their own authentic and robust Public Key Infrastructure, enabling them to build trust between their systems, devices, users, and other untrusted networks. In addition, PKI help secure channels and protect all the communications in transit. Public Key Infrastructure is a setup that gives e-certificates to an organization’s systems, users, and devices that provide them with trusted identities. The following article will guide you in building your public key infrastructure. 

Components Of Public Key Infrastructure 

Before going through the steps of building your public key infrastructure, we have to first look at the main components of PKI. 

Root Certificate Authority (CA) 

Root CA is the most fundamental component of PKI. It helps provide e-certificates and establishes the foundation of trust between various identities. In addition, Root CA also provides certificates to other CA s hence giving them the ability to certify the root CA. under Root CA; there are numerous Intermediate Certificate Authority and Issuing Certificate authority. The Issuing CA is responsible for issuing certificates on behalf of Root CA to devices, end-users, and other certificate requestors.  

Intermediate CA works only on three-tier CAs, while Issuing CA can work on two-tier and three-tier CAs. Root Certificates and other issued certificates are stored in a Certificate Store. In addition, the certificate store helps in keeping Intermediate CA and other end-user certificates. The certificate store is also responsible for determining the trusted CAs. 

Public And Private Key  

Public Key is generated through an asymmetric key algorithm and is always issued to the public together with the e-certificates. The public key can be disclosed to the public, and it is unnecessary to secure it. On the other hand, a private key is a special and unique cryptographic key kept secure and used in the public key generation. A message encrypted with the Public Key can be decrypted using the private key to generate it. 

Certificate Revocation List (CRL)  

All the information on revoked certificates is contained on this Certificate Revocation List. The report includes certificate data and the reason behind the revocation of the certificate. The CRL is usually published under given time intervals. To avoid overlooking revoked certificates past the time intervals, the Delta CRLs are published to capture any potential omission. 

Hardware Security Module (HSM) 

Hardware Security Module is a crucial component of PKI and is majorly used in storing Root CA’s private Key and Intermediate CA’s private key. HSM is created with tamper-resistant and tamper-evident safety mechanisms that help to secure it. 

How To Build Your Own Public Key Infrastructure  

Identify Your Certificate Requirements 

The first step in building your own PKI cloud is that you must identify all the current and future needs for all the e-certificates. This will include identifying what your certificates in the PKI are and what they will be used for.   

Select The Appropriate Certificate Authority. 

Once you have identified the requirements of your digital certificates with the PKI, you should select the type of Certificate Authority you wish to set up. There are different types of Certificate Authority, such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon CAs. Microsoft CAs can be ideal if you want to set up a PKI that will support Microsoft services.   


Initially, the internal PKI was set up on-premises. However, due to changes in applications and services, there is a rapid migration to the PKI cloud. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider Cloud requirements when building a cloud PKI. For example, if most of the services and products on your PKI will be on the cloud, you should ensure that the CA aligns with all the cloud-based requirements. 

Certificate Management 

Setting an internal PKI does not guarantee the organization’s ability to meet and manage all the PKI requirements. Automating certificate management operations is one of the essential requirements of a PKI. You have to ensure that you have made a provisioning and de-provision certificate to ensure a quick operation of certificates that are not affected by human error. 

Securing Root and Issuing CA Private Keys 

Both Root and Issuing CA’s private keys have to be secured as they are for the root of trust of your PKI. You can use a hardware security module to store these private keys as it provides maximum protection and ensures no tampering or misuse of the keys. 

Creating Certificate Policy and Certificate Policy Statement. 

Certificate Policy and Certificate Policy Statement play an essential role in defining the policies of the Certificate Authorities, which will help design the PKI. In addition, they act as the scope and framework of your certificate authority. They help regulate and manage CA by telling it whom it can issue certificates, procedures to be used, and the boundaries within which they should work. 

Certificate Revocation and Certificate Revocation List Checking  

Certificate revocation is a significant step in creating your PKI. You have to ensure that certificates are revoked when required and are placed into Certificate Revocation List appropriately. You should also ensure that your Certificates Authority is checked regularly to ensure that they are updated on the latest revoked certificates.   

Wrapping Up   

If you want to secure your data and information, you should have a robust and effective Public Key Infrastructure in place. You can quickly develop a robust PKI for your organization and ensure trust for your end-users, devices, and systems. If you feel your PKI setup is old and not effective in the modern era, you can revamp it and upgrade it easily to match the current technology. 

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Noor Ul Huda

About the Author: Noor Ul Huda

Noor Ul Huda Naeem is a Computer Science student. She is also a blogger focused on Meaningful & Core-Bases Youth Development of her country particularly in the domains of Technology, Entrepreneurship, Self-Awareness, Education & Relationships.

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