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3.8.7 What is PEM?

  PEM is the Internet Privacy-Enhanced Mail standard, designed, proposed, but not yet officially adopted, by the Internet Activities Board in order to provide secure electronic mail over the Internet. Designed to work with current Internet e-mail formats, PEM includes encryption, authentication, and key management, and allows use of both public-key and secret-key cryptosystems. Multiple cryptographic tools are supported: for each mail message, the specific encryption algorithm, digital signature algorithm, hash function, and so on are specified in the header. PEM explicitly supports only a few cryptographic algorithms; others may be added later. DES in CBC mode is currently the only message encryption algorithm supported, and both RSA and DES are supported for the key management. PEM also supports the use of certificates, endorsing the CCITT X.509 standard for certificate structure.

The details of PEM can be found in Internet RFCs (Requests For Comments) 1421 through 1424. PEM is likely to be officially adopted by the Internet Activities Board within one year. Trusted Information Systems has developed a free non-commercial implementation of PEM, and other implementations should soon be available as well.


next up previous
Next: 3.8.8 What is RIPEM? Up: 3.8 Misceallenous Previous: 3.8.6 What are RC2
Denis Arnaud
12/19/1997