The Importance of an Automated Certificate Lifecycle Management Solution for Companies in the Banking and Financial Services

The financial services sector is facing cyber threats almost daily.  According to a cybersecurity report by the Boston Consulting Group, banking and financial institutes are 300 times more at risk of cyberattack than other companies.

When it comes to banking and financial services, some characteristics make cyberattacks very serious be in terms of occurrences and the potential severity of the impacts. A cyberattack in a banking institution can have severe effects on the day-to-day operations of an entire nation or even an entire region of the world.

As organizations tread their paths to digital transformation, some are struggling as they move their legacy solutions to the cloud.  The increasing number of regulations and strict compliance standards do not make the situation easy either.  Phishing attacks are no longer limited to emails alone. Phishing attack through social media platforms is now among one of the cybersecurity trends in financial services.

Aside from phishing attacks, the most common threats faced by banking and financial services include malware attacks and data breaches. A report by the Boston Consulting Group revealed that: 

  1. cyberattacks on financial institutions spiked by a massive 238% from the beginning of February to the end of April 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic (Infosecurity Magazine, 2020)
  2. attacks now cost the banking industry $18.3 million per enterprise (Security Boulevard, 2020).

Ecuador’s largest private bank Banco Pichincha recently suffered a cyberattack that disrupted operations and took the ATM and online banking portal offline. The bank had to shut down portions of their network to prevent the attack’s spread to other systems. The episode had a cascading effect with the shutdown of systems leading to non-functional ATMs and the online banking portals displaying maintenance messages.

In January 2021, Morgan Stanley faced a data breach. Morgan Stanley disclosed that the personal data of some of its corporate clients was stolen in a data breach that involved a third-party vendor, and hackers accessed information, including social security numbers.

Key Challenges faced by Companies in the Banking and Financial Services 

Identity authentication is critical in the financial services industry. Verifying digital identities is crucial for establishing customer trust and securing transactions. However, the rapid growth of digitization, new technologies, and user behaviors are rapidly changing the ways banks interact with their customers and employees. This is fueling changes in identity management obligations forever. As a result, the role of banks and financial services in the identity supply chain is re-evaluated continuously.

Identity can be much more than security alone. Hence, many organizations in the financial sector are looking at broader business benefits by investing in new identity sources, biometrics, and advanced analytics to ward off potential cybersecurity threats. 

The Importance of Public key infrastructure (PKI) and Certificate Management 

PKI has become standard for enterprises trying to secure data and authenticate machines on the move. X.509 certificates, such as SSL/TLS, are just one of the many PKI systems widely adopted by enterprises, all of which include both private and public keys. As the name suggests, the public key is open to public data encryption, while the private keys are kept confidential for decryption purposes. This makes a private key the single most important asset of any infrastructure. When malicious actors uncover a private key, valuable data is compromised through the impersonation of an enterprise’s servers. And unfortunately, many enterprises are still using faulty – and often non-compliant – manual key management processes that leave their most valuable data susceptible to theft. 

The CISO’s Guide to Machine Identity Management

What constitutes improper certificate management?

Here is a checklist that will help you evaluate if your certificate management strategy has room for improvement:

  • My organization’s certificate management practice has an audit trail.
  • Any individual in my organization can raise a request for new certificates.
  • My PKI team has role-based access control (RBAC) for certificate handling processes.
  • I have holistic visibility into the certificate chain across environments.
  • All private keys are stored on encrypted hardware security modules (HSM).
  • All my systems are up-to-date on the latest cryptographic standards.
  • An automated tool helps discover, monitor, renew, and revoke certificates.

If you answered ‘no’ to any of these statements, then you are at risk of becoming a potential victim of an outage!

Certificate outages can affect your business in a multitude of ways:

  • Customer disconnect and opportunity losses
  • Loss of trust
  • Brand damage
  • Legal fines and compliance restructuring
  • Customer reconciliation
  • Dip in productivity

The Need for an Automated Certificate Lifecycle Management Solution

Manually managing certificate lifecycles is slow, error-prone, and highly inefficient. With hundreds of thousands of certificates in circulation, administrators cannot rely on manual management techniques to ensure that PKI is constantly secure and up-to-date. Spreadsheets don’t help in the management of big data. There is a pressing need for a management system that includes alerting processes and automated workflows for PKI tasks such as certificate renewal, requisition, revocation, deployment, and so on.

Automation tools simplify certificate operations by allowing administrators to carry out all necessary activities from a single interface (i.e., without using each certificate authority’s interface to renew or revoke the certificates they have issued). 

Automating certificate and key lifecycle management – enrollment, provisioning, renewal, and revocation – helps keep  digital identities up-to-date and proactively eliminates outages. Processes such as policy management and SSH key rotation can be automated for better security. Automation helps enable cryptographic agility – digital identities can stay on top of protocol and algorithm upgrades to offer the best possible protection under all circumstances.

It is clear that digital certificates contribute much to a zero-trust architecture, but there is a real need for a managed solution with automation of the certificate lifecycle at its core. Hence implementing an end-to-end certificate lifecycle automation solution is a key initiative towards achieving a fully functional zero-trust model.

AppViewX can help!

AppViewX CERT+ is a turnkey solution for all enterprise public key infrastructure (PKI) needs. Available as a service, the cloud-based certificate lifecycle management (CLM), AppViewX CERT+ is fully managed and monitored by AppViewX. Customers can directly get an account on CERT+ available as a service and start using it. This eliminates the need to arrange resources in an enterprise environment. 

The most significant benefit of using certificate lifecycle management available as a service (CLMaaS) is to save resources, time, and effort of installation and maintenance. Another advantage is starting small and growing the subscription as your business grows. There is no need to invest upfront in extensive infrastructure. As the organization increases usage of certificates, the capacity of CLM services can be increased.

Scan QR code to download the whitepaper to understand some of the top PKI pitfalls in finance to avoid.

Do you want to manage your machine identities better?

Tags

  • certificate lifecycle management
  • Certificate Management
  • PKI
  • PKI management
  • SSL Certificate Lifecycle Management

About the Author

Sanchita Chakraborti

Director, Product Marketing – AppViewX CERT+

Sanchita is a Product Marketer responsible for understanding the industry landscape, buyer personas, their pain points and translating them into compelling value propositions and messaging.

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