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The correct title of this article is PKCS #11. The substitution or omission of the # is because of technical restrictions.

In cryptography, PKCS #11 is one of the Public-Key Cryptography Standards,[1] and also refers to the programming interface to create and manipulate cryptographic tokens.


The PKCS #11 standard defines a platform-independent API to cryptographic tokens, such as hardware security modules (HSM) and smart cards, and names the API itself "Cryptoki" (from "cryptographic token interface" and pronounced as "crypto-key" - but "PKCS #11" is often used to refer to the API as well as the standard that defines it).

The API defines most commonly used cryptographic object types (RSA keys, X.509 Certificates, DES/Triple DES keys, etc.) and all the functions needed to use, create/generate, modify and delete those objects.


Most commercial certificate authority software uses PKCS #11 to access the CA signing key or to enroll user certificates. Cross-platform software that needs to use smart cards uses PKCS #11, such as Mozilla Firefox and OpenSSL (using an extension). It is also used to access smart cards and HSMs. Software written for Microsoft Windows may use the platform specific MS-CAPI API instead.


  • 01/1994: project launched
  • 04/1995: v1.0 published
  • 12/1997: v2.01 published
  • 12/1999: v2.10 published
  • 01/2001: v2.11 published
  • 06/2004: v2.20 published[1]
  • 12/2005: amendments 1 & 2 (one-time password tokens, CT-KIP [2])
  • 01/2007: amendment 3 (additional mechanisms)
  • 09/2009: v2.30 draft published for review, but final version never published
  • 12/2012: RSA announce that PKCS #11 management is being transitioned to OASIS [3]
  • 03/2013: OASIS PKCS #11 Technical Committee Inaugural meetings, works starts on v2.40 [4]
  • 09/2014: OASIS PKCS #11 v2.40 now Committee Specification (complete)

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