Privacy-enhanced Electronic Mail

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Privacy Enhanced Mail (PEM), is a 1993 IETF proposal for securing email using public-key cryptography. Although PEM became an IETF proposed standard it was never widely deployed or used.

One reason for the lack of deployment was that the PEM protocol depended on prior deployment of a hierarchical public key infrastructure (PKI) with a single root. Deployment of such a PKI proved impossible once the operational cost and legal liability of the root and 'policy' CAs became understood.

In addition to being an obstacle to deployment, the single-rooted hierarchy was rejected by some commentators as an unacceptable imposition of central authority. This led Phil Zimmermann to propose the Web of Trust as the PKI infrastructure for the encryption program Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). Efforts to deploy PEM were finally abandoned in response to the need to extend the protocol to support MIME. This led to the development of the protocol MIME Object Security Services (MOSS; never widely implemented, now abandoned) and S/MIME (shares de facto standard status with PGP). This is an IETF standard, a result of a group working for a long time. The basic idea is to have privacy by virtue of hierarchical authentication. A receiver trusts the message of the sender when it is accompanied by a certificate from his trusted authority. These authoritative certificates are distributed from a group called Internet Policy Registration Authority (IPRA) and Policy Certificate Authority (PCA). These trusted authority actually certifies the public key sent by senders.[1]

The main legacy of PEM is the .pem file format, which is still in common use for storing keys and X.509 certificates.

See also[edit]

Sample PEM format x 509 cert[edit]

Below represents a sample PEM formatted X509 certificate. (Base 64 encoded)

-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----
MIIEczCCA1ugAwIBAgIBADANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQQFAD..AkGA1UEBhMCR0Ix
EzARBgNVBAgTClNvbWUtU3RhdGUxFDASBgNVBAoTC0..0EgTHRkMTcwNQYD
VQQLEy5DbGFzcyAxIFB1YmxpYyBQcmltYXJ5IENlcn..XRpb24gQXV0aG9y
aXR5MRQwEgYDVQQDEwtCZXN0IENBIEx0ZDAeFw0wMD..TUwMTZaFw0wMTAy
MDQxOTUwMTZaMIGHMQswCQYDVQQGEwJHQjETMBEGA1..29tZS1TdGF0ZTEU
MBIGA1UEChMLQmVzdCBDQSBMdGQxNzA1BgNVBAsTLk..DEgUHVibGljIFBy
aW1hcnkgQ2VydGlmaWNhdGlvbiBBdXRob3JpdHkxFD..AMTC0Jlc3QgQ0Eg
THRkMIIBIjANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQEFAAOCAQ8AMIIBCg..Tz2mr7SZiAMfQyu
vBjM9OiJjRazXBZ1BjP5CE/Wm/Rr500PRK+Lh9x5eJ../ANBE0sTK0ZsDGM
ak2m1g7oruI3dY3VHqIxFTz0Ta1d+NAjwnLe4nOb7/..k05ShhBrJGBKKxb
8n104o/5p8HAsZPdzbFMIyNjJzBM2o5y5A13wiLitE..fyYkQzaxCw0Awzl
kVHiIyCuaF4wj571pSzkv6sv+4IDMbT/XpCo8L6wTa..sh+etLD6FtTjYbb
rvZ8RQM1tlKdoMHg2qxraAV++HNBYmNWs0duEdjUbJ..XI9TtnS4o1Ckj7P
OfljiQIDAQABo4HnMIHkMB0GA1UdDgQWBBQ8urMCRL..5AkIp9NJHJw5TCB
tAYDVR0jBIGsMIGpgBQ8urMCRLYYMHUKU5AkIp9NJH..aSBijCBhzELMAkG
A1UEBhMCR0IxEzARBgNVBAgTClNvbWUtU3RhdGUxFD..AoTC0Jlc3QgQ0Eg
THRkMTcwNQYDVQQLEy5DbGFzcyAxIFB1YmxpYyBQcm..ENlcnRpZmljYXRp
b24gQXV0aG9yaXR5MRQwEgYDVQQDEwtCZXN0IENBIE..DAMBgNVHRMEBTAD
AQH/MA0GCSqGSIb3DQEBBAUAA4IBAQC1uYBcsSncwA..DCsQer772C2ucpX
xQUE/C0pWWm6gDkwd5D0DSMDJRqV/weoZ4wC6B73f5..bLhGYHaXJeSD6Kr
XcoOwLdSaGmJYslLKZB3ZIDEp0wYTGhgteb6JFiTtn..sf2xdrYfPCiIB7g
BMAV7Gzdc4VspS6ljrAhbiiawdBiQlQmsBeFz9JkF4..b3l8BoGN+qMa56Y
It8una2gY4l2O//on88r5IWJlm1L0oA8e4fR2yrBHX..adsGeFKkyNrwGi/
7vQMfXdGsRrXNGRGnX+vWDZ3/zWI0joDtCkNnqEpVn..HoX
-----END CERTIFICATE-----

References[edit]

External links[edit]

RFC 1421
Privacy Enhancement for Internet Electronic Mail: Part I: Message Encryption and Authentication Procedures
RFC 1422
Privacy Enhancement for Internet Electronic Mail: Part II: Certificate-Based Key Management
RFC 1423
Privacy Enhancement for Internet Electronic Mail: Part III: Algorithms, Modes, and Identifiers
RFC 1424
Privacy Enhancement for Internet Electronic Mail: Part IV: Key Certification and Related Services