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Trust anchor

Trust anchor definition

In a security system, a trust anchor is a known, trusted entity or value against which others can be evaluated for authenticity and integrity. A trust anchor is often considered the “root of trust” for secure communication, digital certificates, and cryptographic protocols — compromising the trust anchor puts the entire trust infrastructure at risk.

Trust anchors work by establishing a chain of trust — when a system receives information, it can trace the trustworthiness of that information back to the trust anchor through a series of signed certificates. Each link in the chain is validated using the public key of the entity that signed it.

See also: root of trust, digital trust, zero trust

Trust anchors uses

  • In the context of digital certificates, a trust anchor is typically a root certificate authority (CA) public key. This trust anchor is pre-installed or otherwise securely distributed to the other users to ascertain the authenticity of public keys.
  • In cryptographic systems, a trust anchor's public key is used to verify digital signatures on messages or software updates.
  • Trust anchors are used to verify the authenticity of components during boot sequences. The initial boot code, which is trusted and immutable, serves as a trust anchor, ensuring that only signed and authenticated code is executed.