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Key Management Interoperability Protocol

1.1 Overview

For the cybersecurity of an organization, encryption continues to be the best possible alternative. Many diverse industries are deploying it after realizing its importance. But it must also be considered that management of the encryption keys is still a challenge for the majority.

An enterprise may have various vendor solutions available with their in-house team managing them accordingly. But it is always a difficult task to implement effective encryption and the keys management solution working across the whole business.

The best way to counter this crisis is by implementing the Key Management Interoperability Protocol. It allows the transaction of data between different management servers, and the system of the client in an interoperable manner.

This article delineates the details of the Key Management Interoperability Protocol and puts light on its various aspects.

  1. About KMIP
  2. Working of KMIP
  3. Benefits of KMIP
  4. KMIP and Edge Computing
  5. Growth Prospects

1.2 Development of KMIP

It was in the year 2009 when the Key Management Interoperability Protocol was first introduced by OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards). It is a not-for-profit organization driving the development and adoption of open standards for the global information technology world. In their discussion, they talked about a protocol of key management and KMIP got its first major appearance in the year 2010. Globally renowned organizations like IBM and HCL got very impressed with the ideas and adopted this tactic first.

At first, the major goal of KMIP was to outline an interoperable protocol for the data transfer between the various servers and the users that can use these keys. Initially, it was used in the storage division for exchanging messages of the key management between the archival storage and the management server.

Over time, the security concerns started to aggravate and there came a need for better encryption and a centralized management system for the keys, which could unite all moving parts within an organization.

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1.3 What is KMIP?

In simpler terms, Key Management Interoperability Protocol is a language for secure data management across varied platforms. Mainly, it was developed to facilitate communication within key management systems and encrypted applications like mails, secured databases, on-premise storage devices, etc.

Streamlining the management and orchestration of encrypted keys for the whole organization eliminates the need for old-school redundant processes that are neither secure nor compatible with new-age systems.

The key management interoperability protocol is capable of supporting both legacy systems and new cryptographic applications. Management of Key lifecycle- including creation, submission, retrieval, and termination- of the cryptographic keys is facilitated by the standard protocol.

All sorts of cryptographic objects like Symmetric and Asymmetric keys, shared secrets, authentication tokens, and digital certificates are also supported by it.

2. Working of KMIP

The open standard-based encryption and cryptographic key management method- KMIP standardizes and creates a universal language for all to be at the same level. In its absence, different vendors used various languages for different purposes. That resulted in increased costs, in terms of operations, training, and infrastructure as management of different security communication lines across varied environments was required in different vendor languages.

By abstracting key management from the specific applications and centralizing the management systems without any impact on the performance, Key Management Interoperability Protocol ensures that a common language is being used across various management environments.

The uniform interface thus developed facilitates easy and secure communication among various cryptographically secure applications. This greatly simplifies the key management and eliminates the redundant processes that are neither necessary nor compatible.

Leaders of the IT industry like IBM, HP, Oracle, and others embraced the KMIP as soon as it was introduced. All this made KMIP an unquestioned industry standard. Other vendors and platforms also followed the suit making it ubiquitous in the whole IT security division.

Apart from being a simple industry-standard, KMIP offers better efficiency and compatibility in the organizational system. Not just maintaining the integrity of the sensitive data but also KMIP facilitates the integration of multiple keys management across different platforms and vendors. All this also brings a better cost-efficiency in the IT infrastructure.

3. Benefits of KMIP

It has been discussed how KMIP standardizes the communication between the key management and the encryption systems.

The organizations after implementing the Key Management Interoperability Protocol have witnessed the following benefits in their overall system:

3.1 Simplification of the tasks

While implementing the IT security configurations, organizations have to face various challenges. The situation aggravates when various vendors and multiple technologies are being involved.

In the case of encryption and management of various keys and in those special cases where a unique key manager is required to be deputed for each encryption, the problem is far more complex.

By enabling a single key management system to take care of all encryption systems, KMIP very efficiently addresses this issue and empowers the businesses to save time and efforts which can be focused on the more productive and core business operations.

3.2 Flexibility in Operations

Before the implementation of KMIP, different proprietary key management systems were required to manage the encryptions. Organizations need to work with different vendors having systems built only for specific environments & configurations.

With the KMIP in action, organizations have the flexibility to utilize any key management system. KMIP also empowers the integration across edge, cloud, on-premise systems- all with a single key manager.

3.3 Reduction in IT Infrastructure Costs

Sufficiently safeguarding valuable data within a bootstrap budget is also a challenge for businesses. Implementing a potpourri of technologies from varied vendors can become exponentially expensive. Using a single KMIP powered encryption key manager, the hardware and software required to ensure data security are greatly reduced, so the total cost of owning security infrastructure is also lessened.

4. KMIP and Edge Computing

For the businesses operating at the network edge, data security holds much more prominence. For example, retail stores, banking industries, payment card businesses are more susceptible and would be far more impacted by the data breaches. They all need to have full-proof data security in action all the time.

Organizations operating in Edge computing mode are generally confronted with special challenges when it comes to their data security. Different devices, applications, various proprietary operating systems being in action pose a managerial challenge as well.

KMIP easily addresses all these issues by facilitating a centralized communication medium and a seamless integration with all management systems. With KMIP, organizations are empowered to encrypt the data and manage encryption keys in a compliant management system.

The organizations working with edge computing gain better flexibility with the key management and the need for a single KMS greatly simplifies the overall management process.

A single standard for encryption key management reduces complexities across all environments, making IT management simpler, easy, and affordable.

5. Growth Prospects

KMIP adoption and its base diversification are getting stronger with each passing year. Not just the technological businesses but also the telecommunication enterprises, universities, and libraries are being found to adopt KMIP for the security of their sensitive data. The offering of greater cybersecurity in day-to-day life, and effective & cost-effective management of key lifecycle, KMIP implementation, and developments in the technology shows no sign of faltering.

Capgemini says that customer satisfaction and spending can be drastically enhanced by improving privacy assurance. So investment in cybersecurity and data privacy will be a great business driver and a competitive advantage.

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