Public key infrastructure or PKI incorporates many technology components for authenticating users and devices inside a digital environment. The essential purposes of a PKI are confidentiality and authentication. PKI provides secure access to physical and digital resources, enabling digital document/transaction signing and, most importantly, safe communication between people, services, and technology. Cryptosystems employ mathematical functions, programs, and protocols to encrypt and decode messages. PKI is built around confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA), which must be implemented and covered by every security procedure, layer, or program.
However, PKI setups have a long way to go before they are considered genuinely secure and effective. Security teams continue to leverage legacy techniques to manage certificates and keys, resulting in outages and security breaches hitting corporations harder than ever before. Technology leaders anticipate that the rapid growth of new technologies will require authentication and security mechanisms, making the issue more pressing than ever.
Let us not forget the current COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in a sudden shift in the business environment and how the Russia-Ukraine conflict subsequently caused an increase in cyber-attacks. Businesses need to step up their PKI management standards without much delay.
Every use case has a unique certificate requirement.
- Containers need short-lived certificates that require frequent renewals
- IoT devices may use the Enrollment over Secure Transport (EST) protocol for certificate auto-enrollment
- DevOps need certificate enrollment and management to happen from the CI/CD pipeline to match their delivery speed
Amidst these disparities is the pressure to be crypto-agile. Enterprises need to update cryptographic assets, ciphers, and protocols to new standards as and when they are updated to keep their systems and communications secure. Older protocol versions and algorithms render networks vulnerable to cyberattacks and data breaches.
Why Cloud-based PKI?
One of the most significant advantages of a managed PKI solution over an in-house approach is the speed and cost-effectiveness with which device provisioning can be implemented. To get started, you don’t need to go through the complete deployment process and the setting up of facilities, technologies, and processes. Furthermore, an in-house PKI necessitates extensive planning and infrastructure; it might be challenging to adapt to changes in the market or a company’s objective. On the other hand, a managed PKI service enables scalable identity provisioning that may be scaled up or down on-demand.
Moving the PKI to the cloud can relieve us of multiple security controls, maintenance responsibilities, and infrastructure costs. To be honest, the capital investment and expertise required to properly implement and manage a secure internally run PKI is significant, forcing many organizations to delegate critical PKI operations. The infrastructure teams can focus on other mission-critical projects if the right cloud-hosted PKI as-a-service platform is set up.
When the PKI is deployed in the cloud, you can rest assured that your infrastructure will continue functioning at total capacity even if the IT and security staff change. As inexperienced hands fall on mission-critical infrastructure, shifts in PKI ownership invariably increase the risk of security gaps. Regular maintenance tasks like signing and publishing certificate revocation lists (CRLs) and renewing CAs can cause significant outages that can take days or weeks to fix.
With hyperconnected reality becoming incredibly ubiquitous, security has become the topmost priority for enterprises riding the digital wave. Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is the first and most crucial layer of defense against attackers for an internet-facing system