As I have promised here you are next post from the PKI scope. Following example presents way of communication between user A and B with digital certificates. It will be one way communication example so user A sends data to user B. The same process takes place in opposite direction. It’s not easy and smooth but rather hardcore and kiler theme 😉 so it’s good to have fresh and open mind to read it. Are you read? Please go ahead.

The following process diagram will be very helpfull to understand the clue, step by step description below:



  1. User has own keys pair (public/private keys). Public key A (related to private key A) has been signed and authorized by the CA before (certificate enrolment process that is has been described Public Key Infrastructure – certificate enrolment post).
  2. User A uses public key B and encrypts Message that will be sent to the user B. Public key B has been taken from B’s certificate.
  3. Additionally, user A takes the same clear Message as input and does SHA (or MD5) hash function – Message# is output of this algorithm.
  4. Message# is then encrypted by the Private key A. Digital Signature of the user A Message is output of this process.
  5. The Digital Signature is added to the encrypted message.
  6. Above decrypted message and User A Certificate is send to the User B. User B gets a encrypted message and start decryption and authentication process. First user needs to be sure that Public key A that will be used for user’s A message authentication is true Public key of user A.
  7. To verify it, User B takes the Public key CA from the CA Certificate (that has signed User A’s Data, CA has issued the User A Certificate during certificate enrolment process) and decrypt the Digital Signature CA that is embedded into User A Certificate, Data# A is output of this process. Additionally user B downloads most up to date Certificate Revocation List (CRL) from CA to verify if User A Certificate has not been canceled and is still valid.  
  8. User B takes User A Certificate a does the same hash function (like CA has done for User A Data), Data# A is output of this process. User B takes this output and compares with Data# A (that has been produced in point 7) to confirm User A identity. If the hash outputs are the same it means that User A Certificates is real so Public key A is confirmed and can be use for communication.
  9. User B takes Public key A and decrypts Encrypted Message that has received. Clear, unencrypted message is output.
  10. To confirm that Message is real and has not been changed on way, User B does the same hash function (encryption and authentication functions have been negotiated at the beginning of the communications process, for example in case of IPsec it takes place in Phase 2 of IKE negotiation), so unencrypted Message is a input and Message# is output of this process.
  11. Then User B takes own Private key B and decrypts Digital Signature of the Message that has been added by the User A. Message# is output of this process.
  12. Message# from point 10 and Message# from point 11 is compare and if are the same then User B is sure that Message has not been changed and is exactly the same like User A has sent.


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