Windows 2000 includes a public key infrastructure (PKI) that can support a wide range of public key information security needs. A public key infrastructure provides the framework of services, technology, protocols, and standards that enable you to deploy and manage a strong and scalable information security system based on public key technology. The basic components of a public key infrastructure include digital certificates, certificate revocation lists, and certification authorities. Before public key cryptography can be widely used and easily managed on public networks, a public key infrastructure must be in place. Without a public key infrastructure, public key technology is not generally suitable for large-scale enterprise deployment.

The Windows 2000 public key infrastructure is based on the open standards that are recommended by the Public Key Infrastructure for X.509 Certificates (PKIX) working group of the IETF. Because Windows 2000 security is based on open standards, the security solutions you implement can operate with many standards-compliant, third-party operating systems and security products.

For more information about public key technology, see Cryptography for Network and Information Security, Choosing Security Solutions That Use Public Key Technology, and Windows 2000 Certificate Services and Public Key Infrastructure in the Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit Distributed Systems Guide .