Cybersecurity can be a game changer in realizing digital transformation success and driving better business outcomes. If you aren’t convinced about it yet, here are some findings from Accenture’s State of Cybersecurity Resilience 2023 Report that validate it.
The report reveals that those organizations that closely align their cybersecurity programs to business objectives are 18% more likely to increase their ability to drive revenue growth, increase market share, and improve customer satisfaction, trust and employee productivity.
The report also revealed that organizations that embed key cybersecurity actions into their digital transformation efforts and apply strong cybersecurity operational practices across the organization—called the cyber transformers—are nearly 6X more likely to experience more effective digital transformations than the rest.
If you are wondering what the cyber transformers do differently that sets them up for success, then here are two of the strong cybersecurity operational practices they were found to follow:
- 40% of cyber transformers use cybersecurity as a service to enhance operations and address talent shortages
- 89% of cyber transformers rely heavily on automation
AppViewX has long championed using public key infrastructure (PKI) as a service and automation in machine identity management to improve efficiency, bolster security, and drive digital transformation success.
Implementing these approaches can address a lot of current challenges and save organizations significant time, effort, and money. To understand how, let’s first look at the pain points in PKI and certificate lifecycle management.
The Challenges of Managing Private PKI On Premises
Traditionally, organizations establish a private PKI on-premises to issue certificates for internal use cases that only require private trust. A common on-premises PKI is a Microsoft CA that is deployed within an organization’s IT infrastructure and managed by the security team or a dedicated PKI team. There are several challenges teams grapple with when it comes to PKI management.
- Setting up PKI in-house is a huge undertaking. Procuring and maintaining hardware and software, designing PKI, defining policies, and maintaining the infrastructure are highly complex and resource-intensive.
- Running an on-prem PKI incurs significant costs involving hardware, software licenses, maintenance, upgrades, and staff training. Scaling the infrastructure to meet increasing demands can further escalate costs.
- Finding and retaining qualified staff with expertise in both technical and policy aspects of PKI management is challenging, considering the evolving nature of cryptographic technologies and the demand for specialized skills.
- Scaling an on-prem PKI to accommodate a growing number of certificates requires significant planning and effort.
- On-prem PKI lacks integration support for modern PKI use cases like IoT, multi-cloud, DevOps, and containerized environments.
As more private PKI use cases emerge and the number of private trust certificates increases, the challenges of managing a private PKI on-premises can lead to serious consequences, such as security risks, financial losses, failed audits, and compliance violations.
How PKI as a Service Transforms On-Premises PKI Management
PKI-as-a-Service (PKIaaS) is a PKI service that is externally hosted, fully managed, and delivered via a cloud-based SaaS platform. The service provider handles all of the required infrastructure components, including the hardware, software, and security of the cloud environment, eliminating the burden and complexity of managing the PKI on-premises.
PKIaaS offers several advantages over managing PKI on-premises. Here are some reasons why it is considered a better approach:
- Turn Key and Scalable: PKIaaS is easy to provision and ready to use, given there is no infrastructure to deploy or manage. It also allows you to easily scale up or down as needed.
- Cost-effective: PKIaaS incurs no significant upfront and operational costs. As the infrastructure is handled and maintained by the PKIaaS provider, you only pay for the services you use on a subscription basis.
- Easy to Manage: PKIaaS helps simplify and centralize PKI operations. Mature PKIaaS solutions come with fully integrated certificate lifecycle management to automate certificate processes for easier and better governance.
- Support Enabled: PKIaaS providers specialize in managing PKI infrastructure and have the necessary expertise to ensure the availability, reliability, and security of the system. You don’t have to hire dedicated PKI resources.
- Secure and compliant: PKIaaS providers invest in highly secure facilities, implement robust security measures, and adhere to industry best practices. They often undergo regular security audits and comply with relevant regulations to ensure the security and integrity of the infrastructure.
- Integrated: PKIaaS solutions are designed to integrate seamlessly with other systems and processes. They typically provide APIs and connectors that facilitate integration with cloud services, DevOps toolchains, ITSM, and others to simplify certificate provisioning across all endpoints.
The Challenges of Managing Digital Certificates and Their Life Cycles Manually
Many organizations today still use ad-hoc processes, such as spreadsheets, databases, scripts, and Outlook calendars, for managing their digital certificates. These processes are too slow and rigid to manage the thousands of certificates that organizations use today.
Even when manual processes are replaced by CA-provided tools, the problems linger, as they are not CA-agnostic, often have basic script execution capabilities, and do not support certificate management across cloud and containerized environments.
Other major reasons why manual certificate management is challenging:
- There is little to no visibility of certificates in the infrastructure. Hence, it is difficult to monitor them for expiry and vulnerabilities.
- No insight into weak, vulnerable, or non-compliant certificates. Neither do they enable crypto-agility to quickly make any crypto changes at scale.
- Certificate enrollment and renewals are long-drawn out processes and often cause unnecessary delays, slowing down operations and agile processes.
- Certificate processes are not governed. Inconsistent practices lead to certificate sprawl, weak crypto standards, security vulnerabilities, unauthorized access, and rogue certificate issuance.
- Limited integration support for use cases such as DevOps, containerized environments, IoT, and multi-cloud leads to silos and poor control over certificate processes.
As certificates grow in number and their lifetimes shorten, manual management becomes impractical and inefficient. Increased overhead, human errors, and certificate mismanagement become routine issues, leading to application outages, vulnerabilities, and compliance violations.
How Automation Transforms Manual Certificate Lifecycle Management
- End-to-End CLM Automation: Automation simplifies certificate lifecycle management (CLM) operations by automating all certificate processes end-to-end, right from enrollment to provisioning and auto-renewals. Automated workflows streamline and accelerate the whole process, reducing the time and effort required to issue, renew, and revoke certificates. Eliminating manual intervention not only improves team productivity but reduces the likelihood of certificate misconfigurations.
- Complete Visibility: Automated CLM solutions maintain a certificate inventory to provide complete visibility of all the certificates used in your infrastructure. A unified view helps stay on top of certificate renewals and vulnerabilities to prevent application outages and security risks.
- Centralized management: Automation allows you to effortlessly manage the entire lifecycle of all public and private trust certificates from a central console.
- Crypto-agility: Automating CLM allows you to respond rapidly to current and future crypto changes and threats by providing the agility to replace vulnerable certificates at scale.
- Strong Policy Enforcement: Automation helps standardize certificate processes across the organization by enforcing policies consistently. This helps eliminate discrepancies in crypto-standards, validity periods, and trust levels and ensures all certificates comply with industry best practices and regulatory mandates.
- Seamless Integrations: Automated solutions provide Rest APIs and extensive out-of-the-box integrations with CAs, endpoints, ITSM, HSMs, MDMs, and DevOps tools to automate processes and repetitive ticketing and governance tasks.
IT infrastructures are evolving rapidly. Cybersecurity approaches, too, must evolve and adapt to changing requirements. Given how critical PKI and digital certificates are for identity-first security and Zero Trust, organizations need to find a better way of managing them. Implementing PKIaaS and automation can make a significant difference to the cybersecurity strategy and help leverage cybersecurity as a springboard for business growth.
Modernize Your Private PKI and Simplify Certificate Lifecycle Management with AppViewX
AppViewX provides a digital identity protection solution that simplifies PKI and certificate lifecycle management for modern enterprise organizations. The AppViewX Platform brings together AppViewX PKI+ (PKIaaS) and AppViewX CERT+ (CLM automation) to provide a comprehensive approach for organizations to scale their machine identity management, Improve efficiency, achieve crypto-agility, and strengthen their overall security posture.
Talk to an expert or register for a live demo to learn all about AppViewX PKI+ and AppViewX CERT+.