Digital Certificate Operation in a Complex Environment
The DCOCE PKI Architecture and Requirements
1.1. This Document
This section is a technical overview of the architecture implemented by the
Digital Certificate Operation in
a Complex Environment
1.2. Aims, authentication, encryption and signing
The primary aim of the
DCOCE project was to
investigate the feasibility of using digital certificates for
to services. Therefore, this architecture was established with that
in mind and the design was aimed directly at 'authentication' certificates.
However, the issue of using digital certificates for signing and
could not be completely avoided and therefore our recommendations for such certificates
By default the 'system' issues 'authentication' certificates
Users who wish to receive signing and/or encryption certificates can do
so, but that needs to be explicitly stated at the time of request and
separate certificate(s) should be issued for those purposes;
certificates should be used to support requests for signing or
certificates (avoiding the need to physically visit the
Similar procedures regarding requests and issuing are followed and
similar storage mechanisms used;
Signing and encryption certificates should have longer expiry times
(probably around five or ten years) and encryption certificates need
to be escrowed.
See also the notes regarding revocation.
1.3. Technical terms
PKI is seen by many to be
an esoteric subject area with many technical terms. It was unfortunate
that the DCOCE project even had to
add some of its own! However the DCOCE project web site contains a comprehensive
glossary of key terms and definitions.
1.4. Architectures for feasibility/pilot study versus production
One of the aims of this feasibility study was to consider how a
( PKI) architecture
can be made to fit into a higher education environment. Some of this
work was to actually model what would work best, and to try to build this
and pilot it where possible. Clearly on a feasibility/pilot scale, not
all of the infrastructure could be afforded. Therefore, the architecture
outlined in this document considers what should exist in
'production', but notes are made where the pilot study had to simplify or
modify any procedures or structures. These notes appear below
the main body of text as in the following example:
1.4.1. Example of particular process
A really expensive hardware accelerator must be used for this for
the solution to be scalable.*
* The DCOCE project
used a simple network server for this process.
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Sections in this document:
Digital Certificate Operation in a Complex Environment (DCOCE) is a project funded by the Joint Information Systems
at Oxford University Computing Services, Library Services and the
e-Science Centre. External partners include Manchester Information
and Associated Services and Athens at EduServ.
University of Oxford.