Preparing for a TLS Upgrade: A Migration Plan

In the first part of the TLS migration series, we discussed the importance of keeping your TLS instances up to date and why you must choose TLS 1.3 for better data security. In this second part of the series, let’s look at how you can plan and prepare for the TLS upgrade.

Making the leap to a newer TLS version is inevitable and an absolute necessity, so the faster you prepare for it, the better. However, it isn’t as easy as simply flipping a switch – there are several elements you need to consider and plan for before deciding to rehaul your TLS-dependent systems.

Here’s a six-step migration plan you can use as a handy guide to plan and carry out your TLS migration systematically and successfully. 

Preparing for a TLS Upgrade A Migration Plan

The first step is to identify all the devices in your infrastructure that run TLS. It is crucial that you track down every TLS certificate (all certificates in the chain of trust, including intermediate) irrespective of the nature of the server (internal or external). To achieve this, employ a certificate lifecycle management (CLM) tool that integrates with your existing scanners and runs a top-down scan of your entire network for discovering certificates multicloud and hybrid cloud environments.  

After discovery, create an inventory of all the TLS certificates along with important information such as the associated device, location, TLS version, expiry date, owner, etc.  

Inventory Assessment

Assess the certificates within the discovered inventory. Group and prioritize them based on the TLS versions they use and the order in which they must be renewed. For example, TLS certificates installed on mission-critical and public-facing applications that interact with inbound traffic need to be updated before those certificates installed on internal servers that interact with outbound, pushing them up on the priority list.

Impact Analysis

Inform every key stakeholder from the network and application teams who might be affected by the upgrade and get them involved in the process. Once the migration plan is in place, conduct an impact analysis to assess system or device support for TLS 1.3. Create a map of every client-server communication to quickly identify the system components and data flows that rely on older TLS protocols. Ensure that all the endpoints and APIs support the new TLS protocol to prevent compatibility issues and consequent application outages. 

A Comprehensive How-To Guide to Certificate Lifecycle Management

There might be older web servers and devices running on older operating systems and legacy hardware that do not support the new protocol. In that case, examine them for application compatibility and plan for software or hardware upgrade accordingly. Ensure they are configured to only support the protocol they are migrating to. 

Policy Creation and Enforcement

Create business-specific and security policies to guide the migration process and ensure standardized TLS deployment across the infrastructure. Define the process to disable all versions of SSL and older versions of TLS on all endpoints that run on these vulnerable protocols. Accurately define the new TLS configuration, including cipher suites, hashing algorithms, and key exchange mechanisms. Provide clear direction on implementing suitable secure configurations on the fly.

Migration

After impact analysis, renew and update certificates in the order of priority. Generate Certificate Signing Requests (CSRs) and get new certificates issued by the respective Certificate Authorities (CAs). Provision the new certificates to their respective devices and bind them to the applications. Ensure each step is well documented and accounted for.

Having a CLM solution that integrates with other enterprise solutions such as ITSM (IT Service Management), SIEM (Security Information and Event Management), and others can greatly simplify certificate enrollment for all listed endpoints across the enterprise. 

Validation of Migration

Post-migration, check your application delivery monitoring system to ensure all applications are running fine. Analyze the certificate inventory report to check if all the systems are running the latest TLS protocol you migrated to. Perform a detailed migration report on the whole process to validate and ensure successful completion. Share the status and progress of the migration plan with key stakeholders. 

Key Considerations before Migration

Executing TLS migration in an infrastructure that hosts thousands of servers and devices is no mean feat. There are bound to be challenges along the way. Nonetheless, a little mindful preparation and foresight can help you steer clear of setbacks. 

Here are two factors you must be cautious about before starting the migration process:

  • Discovery and Inventory of Non-Compatible Endpoints: An enterprise can have thousands of sites and systems – some running on deprecated TLS versions and others on TLS 1.2. Discovering and classifying endpoints that are non-compatible with the newer TLS version can be an arduous activity. As mentioned before, every single endpoint must be compatible with the new ciphers and libraries that a TLS migration entails. If a non-compatible endpoint is overlooked pre-migration, it will fail to work post-migration, causing application downtime and service disruptions. To avoid such situations, you must run a thorough check for any weak links and remediate compatibility issues before going for an upgrade.
  • Reconfiguration of Servers and Clients: For complete and successful TLS migration, it is important to reconfigure all old servers and clients that use TLS 1.0/TLS 1.1 to support only the latest TLS version you’re migrating to. This entails updating their digital certificates as well. 

Simplify and Accelerate TLS Migration with AppViewX

If you work with certificates and public key infrastructure (PKI), you already know that flipping through an entire inventory of certificates, weeding out non-compliant ones, and working with CA(s) to get them updated or renewed is no walk in the park. Attempting to do it manually can take hours, days, or even months, given that you’d want zero network downtime or service disruptions while this happens.

AppViewX CERT+, in a nutshell, is an automation-driven certificate lifecycle management tool that can assist your TLS migration tremendously by accelerating the PKI processes involved and also simplifying them to ensure that it is not riddled by human error. With AppViewX CERT+, you can automate the migration process end-to-end, saving significant effort and time. 

Never Take A Vulnerability for Granted and Never Put Off an Upgrade 

As computing power increases, so will the efforts to break encryption. So, attacks are inevitable. But the good news is cryptography is growing equally strong. In the end, it all comes down to how proactive you are in mitigating security risks. It is also essential to understand that a successful migration isn’t necessarily complex or time-consuming. With a well-defined plan and the right automation tools, migration can be more smooth sailing than you think. 

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Tags

  • certificate lifecycle management
  • PKI
  • PKI management
  • SSL Certificate Lifecycle Management
  • tls 1.3
  • tls certificates
  • tls upgrade

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Krupa Patil

Product Marketing Specialist

A content creator focused on providing readers and prospective buyers with accurate, useful, and latest product information to help them make better informed decisions.

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