Enhance and Upgrade Enterprise Security with Efficient Management of Digital CertificatesApril 13, 2018 No Comments
Featured article by Murali Palanisamy, CTO at AppViewX
Enterprises are aiming to automate all verticals of their businesses in 2018, whether that be their network infrastructures, processes, workflows or products. However, most enterprises focus the majority of their time on streamlining these larger business processes, and tend to lose sight of smaller yet critical components of their digital businesses. One area that is often overlooked and mistakenly taken for granted is the digital certificate.
Enterprises must manage thousands of digital or SSL certificates to secure their infrastructure from cyber-attacks and threats. Managing these digital certificates can be cumbersome, as each has an individual lifecycle management process attached that involves discovery, issuing, provisioning, renewal and expiry.
Digital certificates are primarily used to secure servers, web applications, PDFs, and company websites, and to encrypt emails and provide multi-factor authentication. But, most enterprises don’t realize that the expiration of a single certificate can bring down an entire critical application, making it completely inaccessible to customers. This can cost the enterprise billions of dollars, significant productivity, brand credibility, and sometimes, customers themselves.
It is alarming that even in today’s digital age, a significant number of enterprises still use spreadsheets to manually manage and track the lifecycle of such critical network components, creating room for unprecedented errors that can ultimately damage the larger business. That’s why the best way to manage digital certificates securely and compliantly is to automate the process.
However, it’s important to recognize that automation is not something you can implement overnight. It takes careful planning and some time to execute it. Here’s what enterprises must do to manage their certificates efficiently.
Get End-to-End Visibility of Certificate Infrastructure
Complete transparency is crucial for certificate management. It is highly recommended that enterprises maintain an inventory of all discovered and existing certificates, and regularly scan digital environments. Storing all certificates with detailed information on the certificate type, expiration date, root/intermediate certificate, and deployment information can help enterprises keep updated track records. As a best practice, enterprises should renew certificates at least 30 days prior to the expiration date. However, without end-to-end visibility of every certificate in your enterprise, ensuring this is nearly impossible. And, one slip-up can cost the business more than just monetary loss.
Remove Unused, Unknown, and Rogue Certificates
Enterprises tend to purchase certificates in bulk, which leads to large numbers of unused or undocumented certificates lingering in the environment. Once these certificates expire, they must be promptly removed from the inventory. The best way to avoid hiccups when it comes to unused or unknown certificates is to maintain complete control over the certificate purchasing process and ensuring that the team responsible for each certificate is clearly marked in the inventory.
Put an End to the Use of Weak Cryptographic Techniques
The strength of an enterprise’s infrastructure security is directly linked to the encryption techniques it is using. Unfortunately, some very commonly used methods are proving to be much too vulnerable in today’s increasingly digital world. Enterprises must be strategic when choosing their encryption plans.
In addition to the status of your certificates, maintaining private keys also plays an important role in enterprise security. Enterprises must keep track of non-compliant certificates and instantly remove them to prevent hackers from exploiting their active ones.
Choose Digital Certificate Vendors Wisely
In 2017, enterprises experienced a major set-back when Chrome distrusted a renowned certificate vendor. To avoid this same hassle in 2018, enterprises should choose from multiple vendors when securing their digital certificates instead of placing their fate in the hands of a single entity. By purchasing from different vendors, enterprises allow themselves a back-up option and remain in control of their security.
Enterprises can choose from a diverse range of digital certificate vendors based on their business needs, demands and budget. It has also become equally easy to manage these multi-vendor certificates from a single console using a vendor-agnostic automation tool.
Automate Certificate Lifecycle Management Process
Digital certificates play a crucial role in enterprise security. But by managing them manually using spreadsheets, enterprises are effectively exposing their businesses to threats that have the potential to cause irreparable damage. They also significantly hinder productivity and can be highly error-prone. The simplest solution is to employ an automated certificate management tool that can discover, issue, renew, revoke, and install certificates. And, by automating the digital certificate management process, enterprises can be promptly notified on the certificate’s validity and expiration.
Digital certificates are usually considered to be an enterprise’s last level of defense against hackers, which makes certificate management a major priority this year. The futuristic approach to efficient and effective digital certificate management is bringing in an automation tool that gives enterprises the agility to respond to growing security vulnerabilities. By investing in a certificate lifecycle automation tool right away, enterprises can reduce the overall complexity of their digital certificate infrastructure.
Murali Palanisamy, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of AppViewX
As chief technology officer, Murali is responsible for the overall product vision, development, and technical direction of AppViewX. Before joining the company, he served as senior vice president at Bank of America, where he led an architecture and engineering team of e-commerce application delivery.
Prior to that, Murali was vice president of architecture and product engineering at Merrill Lynch. He has designed and developed automation and integration solutions for servers, application delivery controllers, IP services, and networking.
Murali is an electronics and communication engineer from Bharathiyar University in India. Currently he is based out of New York.