7.7. Understanding Key Management and the Key Life Cycle

Key management refers to the process of working with keys from the time they are created until the time they are retired or destroyed. Key management includes the following stages/areas:

  • Centralized versus decentralized key generation

  • Key storage and distribution

  • Key escrow

  • Key expiration

  • Key revocation

  • Key suspension

  • Key recovery and archival

  • Key renewal

  • Key destruction

  • Key usage


Throughout this discussion, the terms certificate and key will be used interchangeably. Certificates contain keys that provide security. The process used is the same in either situation.

The term key life cycle describes the stages a key goes through during its entire life. You can think of this as a cradle-to-grave ...

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