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Public key cryptography is the foundation of today's secure communication, but it is subject to man-in-the-middle attacks when one side of communication sends its public key to the other side. The fundamental problem is that there is no easy way to verify the ownership of a public key, i.e., given a public key and its claimed owner information, how do we ensure that the public key is indeed owned by the claimed owner? The Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is a practical solution to this problem.

The learning objective of this lab is for students to gain the first-hand experience on PKI. SEED labs have a series of labs focusing on the public-key cryptography, and this one focuses on PKI. By doing the tasks in this lab, students should be able to gain a better understanding of how PKI works, how PKI is used to protect the Web, and how Man-in-the-middle attacks can be defeated by PKI. Moreover, students will be able to understand the root of the trust in the public-key infrastructure, and what problems will arise if the root trust is broken.

Tasks (PDF)

Time (Suggested)

  • Supervised (closely-guided lab session): 2 hours
  • Unsupervised (take-home project): 1 week

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