System Administration Guide: Security Services

Solaris Cryptographic Services

Cryptography is the science of encrypting and decrypting data. Cryptography is used to insure integrity, privacy, and authenticity. Integrity means that the data has not been altered. Privacy means that the data is not readable by others. Authenticity for data means that what was delivered is what was sent. User authentication means that the user has supplied one or more proofs of identity. Authentication mechanisms mathematically verify the source of the data or the proof of identity. Encryption mechanisms scramble data so that the data is not readable by a casual observer. Cryptographic services provide authentication and encryption mechanisms to applications and users.

Cryptographic algorithms use hashing, chaining, and other mathematical techniques to create ciphers that are difficult to break. Authentication mechanisms require that the sender and the receiver compute an identical number from the data. Encryption mechanisms rely on the sender and the receiver sharing information about the method of encryption. This information enables only the receiver and the sender to decrypt the message. The Solaris OS provides a centralized cryptographic framework, and provides encryption mechanisms that are tied to particular applications.

Starting in the Solaris 10 8/07 release, the Key Management Framework (KMF) provides a central utility for managing public key objects, including policy, keys, and certificates. KMF manages these objects for OpenSSL, NSS, and PKCS #11 public key technologies. See Chapter 15, Solaris Key Management Framework.