Public Key Cryptography is a system that utilizes a pair of keys that makes a way to format, store, and transport data as securely as possible.
The pair of keys in the system includes a public key, which other users can know, and a private key, which only the owners know about.
The files used in this system are also named PFX files. Given the different software and systems available to maximize the security and efficiency of the algorithm, developers need to transform the PFX file into other formats.
In this article, we will take a look at the details of PFX files in contrast to PEMs. Furthermore, there will be details on private keys and conversions to different formats.
Is PEM the same as PFX
The Privacy Enhanced Mail or PEM files are used by web servers so that translating data can be done easily with a simple text editor. In contrast, a PFX file has a certificate that acts like an archive for storing the things you need to deploy an encrypted certificate.
A PFX certificate is made to serve as either a client or server certificate. The client certificate is installed on your client’s browser.
With this, the client can have a server with user identities, public keys, and certificates. The public key available for the client certificate can be used to encrypt data exchange between two parties.
On the other hand, the server certificate will be installed on the side of the server to provide the same things as that of a client certificate.
The PEM file type and the PFX file type are not necessarily the same thing. However, one can be converted to the other as deemed necessary.
Can you convert PEM to PFX?
PEM file types are certificate containers that link together various data and are used to install these multiple certificates by importing a single file. The PEM file type contains a private key, public key, and root certificates.
Sometimes, you might encounter problems when the PEM files cannot be supported by the software or system you are using. So, you need to convert the PEM file type to another workable format.
An option for you is converting the PEM files to PFX. This allows you more options for the same security and encryption methods that you can maximize.
To convert a PEM file to PFX, all you need to do is download and install version 1.0.1c.
After installing, you need to access the OpenSSL installation bin folder. Then run the following command:
OpenSSL pkcs12 -export -out Cert.p12 -in cert.pem -inkey key.pem -passin pass:root -passout pass:root
From the given command, cert.pem will be the certificate and key,pem will be the private key.
Is PEM the same as a private key?
The PEM files are one of the file types of the Public Key Infrastructure for keys and certificates. The primary reason for developing the PEM file type is to make more secure emails, as the certificates, keys, and data it holds need to be encrypted for safe transfers.
The usual PEM files include a key.pem, which is a private encryption key, and the cert. pem, which is the certificate information. Given this data, PEM files are not entirely the same as a private key. But rather, it is incorporated within its file system along with the certificate information.
In other words, the PEM file type holds both the key and certificates. The OpenSSL supports this file type, but you still have the choice to convert it to other usable formats that you need.
The private keys and public keys are pairs that ensure your data are encrypted by only one key and decrypted by another.
To maximize security, you should keep the private key to yourself and distribute only the public key. This way, you can receive an encrypted message, but access to decryption is limited to one person.
Does PFX contain a private key?
PFX files come under a PKCS#12 format. Like PEM file types, the PFX files also contain the SSL certificate and a private key. Hence, the PFX includes a private key.
However, there are times when you need to import the certificate data and private keys separately in this file format. This way, you can use the unencrypted plain text on another system.
To extract the .key file from a .pfx file, you need to start your previously installed OpenSSL\binfolder. Open a command prompt and open the folder containing your .pfx file. To extract the private key, you need to run this command:
OpenSSL pkcs12 -in [yourfile.pfx] -nocerts -out [drlive.key]
Here, you will be asked to put in the import password. Make sure to have a protected password with a .pfx file and secure your password.
Then, you can decrypt your private key by using the following command:
Openssl rsa -in [drlive.key] -out [drlive-decrypted.key]
After running this command, you will be asked for the password that you previously imported.