Keystore vs Truststore
What is Keystore?
A Keystore is a file in Java that contains cryptographic keys and certificates that are used to securely and reliably identify and authenticate users, devices, and services. The Keystore can be generated and controlled using the key tool command-line software that comes with the Java Development Kit (JDK) (JDK).
Java Keystores are extensively used in numerous applications, such as web servers and Java applications, to securely store cryptographic keys and certificates. Java applications can access and manage the keys and certificates kept in a Keystore by using the Keystore class offered by the Java platform.
Several keystore formats, including JKS (Java KeyStore) and PKCS12 (Public-Key Cryptography Standards #12), are available for Java. JKS is the default keystore type in Java, although PKCS12 is commonly used in other platforms and applications. To prevent unauthorised access, keystores can be encrypted and secured with a password or other authentication method.
Java keystores can be used for various purposes, such as:
- SSL/TLS certificate management: Java keystores can be used to store SSL/TLS certificates that are used to secure web servers and Java applications.
- Code signing: Java keystores can be used to store keys and certificates that are used to sign Java code for authentication and integrity verification.
- Authentication and identity management: Java keystores can be used to store keys and certificates that are used for user authentication and identity management in Java applications.
Why do we use Keystore?
A Keystore is used to securely store cryptographic keys and digital certificates, such as SSL/TLS certificates, that are used for encryption, decryption, signing, and verifying digital signatures.
Here are some reasons why we use a Keystore:
- Secure storage: A Keystore provides a secure way to store cryptographic keys and digital certificates. The keys and certificates are protected by a password or passphrase, which prevents unauthorized access.
- Simplifies key management: A Keystore simplifies the management of keys and certificates by centralizing them in one place. This makes it easier to deploy and maintain applications that require cryptographic operations.
- Facilitates secure communication: A Keystore is often used in SSL/TLS communication to authenticate the server and client, and to encrypt and decrypt data exchanged between them. The keys and certificates stored in the Keystore are used to establish secure communication channels and to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of data.
- Enables code signing: A Keystore is used to sign code or executable files to ensure their integrity and authenticity. The digital signature is generated using a private Keystored in the Keystore, and can be verified using the corresponding public key.
Characteristics of Keystore
Following is the list of the main characteristics of Keystore:
- Security: A Keystore is meant to be a safe place to keep certificates and cryptographic keys. It offers defence against illegal entry, tampering, and theft of private information.
- Encryption: To prevent unwanted access, a Keystore can be encrypted with a password or other authentication method. This guarantees the security of the keys and certificates kept in the Keystore.
- Key management: A Keystore provides facilities for managing keys and certificates, such as generating new keys, revoking old keys, and managing certificates.
- Portability: A Keystore can be exported and imported to different systems and applications. This makes it possible to use the same keys and certificates across different environments.
- Flexibility: A keystore can store different types of keys and certificates, such as public keys, private keys, and X.509 certificates.
- Standards-based: Keystores are based on industry-standard cryptographic protocols and algorithms, such as PKCS#12 and JKS.
- Integration: Keystores can be integrated with different types of applications, such as web servers, email clients, and mobile applications. This makes it possible to use the same keys and certificates across different types of applications.
Methods of Keystore
In Java, the KeyStore class provides various methods to manage a keystore. Some of the commonly used methods of KeyStore class are:
- getInstance(String type) - This method returns a new KeyStore object of the specified type.
- load(InputStream stream, char password) - This method loads a keystore from an input stream and decrypts it with the specified password.
- store(OutputStream stream, char password) - This method saves a keystore to an output stream and encrypts it with the specified password.
- containsAlias(String alias) - This method checks if the keystore contains the specified alias.
- getKey(String alias, char password) - This method returns the private key associated with the specified alias, using the specified password to decrypt the key.
- getCertificate(String alias) - This method returns the certificate associated with the specified alias.
- setKeyEntry(String alias, Key key, char password, Certificate chain) - This method adds a new private key and its associated certificate chain to the keystore, using the specified alias and password.
- deleteEntry(String alias) - This method removes the entry with the specified alias from the keystore.
What is Truststore?
In Java, a Truststore is a repository of trusted digital certificates used to verify the identity of a remote party in a secure communication over a network. When a Java program establishes a secure connection with another program, it verifies the digital certificate of the remote party using the trusted certificates stored in the Truststore. If the digital certificate is trusted, the secure connection is established; otherwise, the connection is rejected.
The Truststore is used in Java to store digital certificates issued by trusted Certificate Authorities (CAs), which are organizations that issue digital certificates to entities such as websites, applications, and other servers. The Truststore contains a list of CA certificates, each of which is associated with a public key that can be used to verify the digital signature of a certificate issued by the CA.
In Java, the Truststore is usually a file named "cacerts" that is located in the Java runtime environment's security directory. The Truststore can be modified to add or remove trusted CA certificates using the keytool utility provided by Java.
Why do we use Truststore?
Basically, we use Truststore in Java so we can easily establish a secure connection between two parties, such as a client and server over a network.
When a secure connection is established, the client needs to verify the identity of the server to ensure that it is not communicating with an impostor or a malicious third party. The server presents a digital certificate that contains its public key, and the client verifies this certificate using the trusted certificates stored in the Truststore.
The Truststore is a repository of trusted digital certificates issued by trusted Certificate Authorities (CAs), which are organizations that are authorized to issue digital certificates. By storing these trusted certificates in the Truststore, Java programs can verify the digital certificates presented by remote parties and establish a secure connection with them.
Without a Truststore, a Java program would not be able to verify the identity of a remote party, and the connection would be vulnerable to various security threats, such as man-in-the-middle attacks, where an attacker intercepts and alters the communication between the two parties. Therefore, using a Truststore is a critical security measure for Java programs that communicate over a network.
Characteristics of Truststore in Java
There are some characteristics of Truststore in Java. Some are as follows:
- Repository of trusted certificates: A Truststore is a repository of trusted digital certificates that are used to establish a secure connection between two parties over a network.
- Contains certificates issued by trusted CAs: The Truststore contains digital certificates issued by trusted Certificate Authorities (CAs) that are authorized to issue digital certificates.
- Public key cryptography: The Truststore uses public key cryptography to verify the identity of a remote party by verifying the digital signature of the presented certificate.
- Default file name: In Java, the default file name for the Truststore is "cacerts," and it is located in the Java runtime environment's security directory.
- Can be modified: The Truststore can be modified to add or remove trusted certificates using the keytool utility provided by Java.
- Used in SSL/TLS: The Truststore is commonly used in Java to establish a secure connection over the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols.
- Security measure: Using a Truststore is a critical security measure for Java programs that communicate over a network as it helps prevent security threats such as man-in-the-middle attacks.
Difference between Keystore and Truststore
Following are some key differences between Keystore and Truststore in Java:
|Contains private key and corresponding public key certificate
||Contains only public key certificates
|used for two-way authentication Used for
||verifying the identity of the remote party
|Used to identify the client on server
||Used to verify the authenticity of the server
|Used by servers
||Used by client
|Used to sign and verify data
||Used to verify the identity of the remote party
||It is also password protected
|Example- PKCS12, JKS
||Example- JKS, cacerts