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PKCS (Public-Key Cryptography Standards) is a set of standards for
implementation of public-key cryptography. It has been issued by RSA Data
Security, Inc. in cooperation with a computer industry consortium,
including Apple, Microsoft, DEC, Lotus, Sun and MIT. PKCS has been cited by
the OIW (OSI Implementors' Workshop) as a method for implementation of OSI
standards. PKCS is compatible with PEM (see Question 3.8.7) but
extends beyond PEM. For example, where PEM can only handle ASCII data, PKCS
is designed for binary data as well. PKCS is also compatible with the CCITT
X.509 standard.

PKCS includes both algorithm-specific and algorithm-independent
implementation standards. Specific algorithms supported include RSA,
DES, and Diffie-Hellman key exchange. It also defines
algorithm-independent syntax for digital signatures, digital envelopes
(for encryption), and certificates; this enables someone implementing
any cryptographic algorithm whatsoever to conform to a standard syntax
and thus preserve interoperability. Documents detailing the PKCS
standards can be obtained by sending e-mail to
pkcs@rsa.com
or by anonymous ftp to rsa.com
.

*Denis Arnaud*

*12/19/1997*