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Glossary of Terms

authentication

The process of reliably determining the identity of a communicating party. Identity can be proven by something you know (such as a password), something you have (such as a private key or token), or something intrinsic about you (such as a fingerprint).

bandwidth

The rate of transmission of data across the network; the maximum amount of information (Kbits/second or Mbits/second) that can be transmitted along a channel.

cipher

A cipher is an encryption algorithm. The cipher you select determines which mathematical algorithm is used to obscure the data being sent after a successful Secure Shell connection has been established.

data integrity

The assurance that data has not been changed from its original source. Methods to preserve data integrity are designed to ensure that data has not been accidentally or maliciously modified, altered or destroyed.

digital signature

Used to confirm the authenticity and integrity of a transmitted message. Typically, the sender holds the private key of a public/private key pair and the recipient holds the public key. To create the signature, the sender computes a hash from the message, and then encrypts this value with its private key. The recipient decrypts the signature using the sender's public key, and independently computes the hash of the received message. If the decrypted and calculated values match, the recipient trusts that the sender holds the private key, and that the message has not been altered in transit.

encryption

Encryption is the process of scrambling data by use of a secret code or cipher so it is unreadable except by authorized users. Encrypted data is far more secure than unencrypted data.

GSSAPI (Generic Security Services Application Program Interface)

An application programming interface that provides programs with access to security services.

hash

Also called a message digest, a hash or hash value is a fixed-length number generated from variable-length digital data. The hash is substantially smaller than the original data, and is generated by a formula in such a way that it is statistically unlikely that some other data will produce the same hash value.

Kerberos

A protocol that uses a trusted third party to enable secure communications over a TCP/IP network. The protocol uses encrypted tickets rather than plain-text passwords for secure network authentication.

latency

The time delay between when an action is initiated and when its effect is detectable. In a network, a delay in the reception of data packets can be caused by several factors, such as the transmission medium, and the number of network devices between the sending and receiving points. In general, the greater the physical distance between your workstation and your X client host, the greater the chance of encountering latency.

MAC (Message Authentication Code)

Used to verify that data is not changed in transit, a MAC is a hash created using an arbitrary-length packet of data and a shared secret key. The sending and receiving party compute the MAC independently for each packet of transferred data using the shared key and an agreed-upon algorithm. If the message has changed in transit, the hash values are different and the packet is rejected.

passphrase

A passphrase is similar to a password, except it can be a phrase with a series of words, punctuation, numbers, white space, or any string of characters. Passphrases improve security by limiting access to secure objects, such as private keys and/or a key agent.

PKCS

PKCS (Public Key Cryptography Standards) is a set of standards devised and published by RSA laboratories that enable compatibility among public key cryptography implementations. Different PKCS standards identify specifications for particular cryptographic uses. Reflection for Secure IT UNIX Client and Server uses the following PKCS standards:

  • PKCS#7 can be used to sign and/or encrypt messages. It can also be used to store certificates and to disseminate certificates (for instance as a response to a PKCS#10 message). You can use ssh-keygen to extract certificates from a PKCS#7 file.
  • PKCS#10 is used for certificate requests to a Certificate Authority (CA). You can use ssh-certtool to create PKCS#10 files.
  • PKCS#12 is used for storage and transportation of certificates and associated private keys. Files in this format typically use a *.pfx or *.p12 extension. Reflection for Secure IT supports authentication using certificates and keys stored in this format.
port forwarding

A way to redirect unsecured traffic through a secure SSH tunnel. Two types of port forwarding are available: local and remote. Local (also called outgoing) port forwarding sends outgoing data sent from a specified local port through the secure channel to a specified remote port. You can configure a client application to exchange data securely with a server by configuring the client to connect to the redirected port instead of directly to the computer running the associated server. Remote (also called incoming) port forwarding sends incoming data from a specified remote port through the secure channel to a specified local port.

public key/private key

Public keys and private keys are pairs of cryptographic keys that are used to encrypt or decrypt data. Data encrypted with the public key can only be decrypted with the private key; and data encrypted with the private key can only be decrypted with the public key.

regular expression

Often abbreviated as regex, a regular expression is a string of characters that describes one or more matching strings. Within a regular expression, some characters have a predefined meaning that determines what qualifies as a match. For example, the regular expression "t.*t" matches any word that starts and ends in the letter t, while the regular expression "text" matches only itself.

Secure Shell

A protocol for securely logging onto a remote computer and executing commands. It provides a secure alternative to Telnet, FTP, rlogin, or rsh. Secure Shell connections require both server and user authentication, and all communications pass between hosts over an encrypted communication channel. You can also use Secure Shell connections to forward X11 sessions or specified TCP/IP ports through the secure tunnel.

socket

The combination of a host name (IP address or DNS name) and a port number. This creates a unique identifier that a client application uses as an end point of communications.

trust anchor

A certificate that can be used as the final trust point in a certificate chain of trust. Note: PKI Services Manager validates certificates using only those trust anchors that have been explicitly configured for use by PKI Services Manager. You can configure a trust anchor using a root CA certificate, an intermediate CA certificate, or a self-signed certificates (one which can only validate itself).