Microsoft’s CSP (Cryptographic Service Providers) is responsible for creating, storing and accessing cryptographic keys – the underpinnings of any certificate and PKI  (Public-Key Infrastructure). These keys can be symmetric or asymmetric, RSA, Elliptical Key or a host of others such as DES, 3DES, and so forth. Selecting a cryptographic provider determines what type, size and storage of key will be used – in our case, for a certificate. There are also 3rd party providers for devices such as smart cards and hardware security modules. For the purposes of this article, I will be addressing the standard Microsoft CSPs and the newer Crypto-Next Generation KSPs, their capabilities and the primary purposes you may use them.

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