Public Key Cryptography

Public Key Cryptography

Overview

For an in depth treatment of public key encryption cryptography, please refer to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public-key_cryptography.

In the Thrio Platform, public/private key-pairs are used to protect access to file servers.

Public/private key-pair

A public/private key-pair consists of two related keys: the public key and the private key. They are paired so that any data encrypted with one can only be decrypted with the other. This means that if you give copies of one of the keys (the public key) to people, and send messages to them that are encrypted with the other key (the private key), then they’ll know that it definitely is you who sent it.

Public Key Authentication

Public key authentication relies on the ability of public/private key-pairs described above, that is, data encrypted with one key can only be decrypted with the other. When a server asks a client to authenticate, the client uses the private key to encrypt some data that is already known by the server (e.g. the username); the client sends the encrypted data back to the server; the server decrypts it with the public key. If the decrypted data matches the known data then it must’ve been encrypted with the private key. The server thereby knows that the client has possession of the private key and assumes that it’s therefore OK to permit access. This illustrates the importance of keeping the private key confidential.

Secure File Transfer Protocols

SFTP

SFTP is a protocol that allows file-transfer over SSH connections. It’s an entirely different protocol than encrypted FTP. It has a major advantage over FTP in that it uses only one connection (usually on port 22), which means that it can operate through firewalls by simply allowing a single port through.

SCP

SCP is a non-interactive file transfer that uses the shell and a remote command only, to securely transmit files between two computers.

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