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Chapter 13. Cryptography > Key Management

Key Management

Key management is the hardest part of cryptography. Key management has to do with the creation, distribution, storage, and destruction of cryptographic keys. A key is at least as valuable as all of the information legitimately encrypted with it. We say “at least” because if an attacker has a key, he can also create unauthorized messages and introduce them into the system.

Key Generation

The main requirement for cryptographic keys is that they be chosen at random. Unfortunately, true randomness is very difficult to achieve. Because of this, many systems attempt to mix changing data from several sources, but this approach is often unsuccessful. For example, an early version of a popular secure Web browser created cryptographic keys that were based in part on the time of day, as given by the machine's clock. The attackers in this case knew the approximate time that the keys were generated, so they were able to test a small set of possible keys using only a few minutes of computer time.


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