Modern businesses today are facing a massive increase in the use of digital identities, both for machines (servers, laptops, and network devices) and for the humans who use them. With this explosion of identities, it has never been more important for IT teams to govern, authenticate and secure every digital identity in the organization, bar none.
The challenge faced by strained IT teams is how to deliver robust certificate management in increasingly complex IT environments, at a time when the workforce is massively distributed and entering the corporate network through consumer technologies in their homes.
As businesses rush to tackle these issues, public key infrastructure (PKI) -based digital certificates are an increasingly reliable way for businesses to authenticate identity. The digital identities provided by PKI collectively produce one of the strongest and easiest to use authentication and encryption solutions available.
Businesses have different options for obtaining and managing digital certificates. While third-party certificate authorities (CAs) are a trusted option for many businesses around the world, many choose to issue them in-house instead, leveraging their own “private CAs” to meet at least part of their needs. in PKI. The general idea is to maximize control over the authentication process.
To fully enjoy the benefits of a private CA, IT managers need a solution that:
- Covers all types of certificates deployed in the company.
- Supports an architecture with any combination of root CA and issuing CA, from private and third-party authorities.
- Supports the entire Certificate Lifecycle Management (CLM) process, enabling certificate issuance, deployment, renewal, and replacement quickly, reliably, and at scale.
Manually managing PKIs is risky and costly
Meeting all of these requirements is not always straightforward, as private CAs involve additional drawbacks such as higher risks and costs, and require complex and practical management. Many organizations always Manually manage their certificates using tools such as spreadsheets to track the lifecycle of each individual certificate. Perhaps the most significant risk of manual certificate management is the inevitability of human error. Over time, humans will make mistakes; in the case of certificate management, a single mistake can lead to serious consequences.
An expired certificate, which is very common with manual PKI management, will certainly cause problems. The best case scenario is a service outage resulting from legitimate transactions that simply fail. The worst-case scenario involves massive damage to the organization’s global public reputation and brand, resulting in millions of disgruntled end users. This is what happened to Ericsson in 2018 when a unique expired certificate left tens of millions of people without cell service in Europe and Asia. According to estimates at the time, Ericsson could have faced SLA penalties equal to 100 million euros.
The hidden cost of manual PKI management
All the downsides of manual PKI management are not so obvious. Consider the labor costs of supporting a manual PKI process, for example.
Manually discovering, installing, monitoring, and renewing all digital certificates in an organization requires a tremendous amount of work. The labor cost for installing a single manual SSL certificate is a multi-step process that can easily add up to over $ 50 per web server. For a business, that cost is multiplied by a much larger number of servers, devices and applications, quickly reaching astounding levels. If an employee makes a single mistake during these repetitions, breakdowns or widespread violations could result.
Companies that choose to continue to manually manage PKIs already have too high costs and risk exposure. With the exponential growth of remote workers, cloud infrastructure and mobile devices, the risk to organizations that continue to rely on manual management of public key infrastructure will only increase in the immediate future. .
Certificate lifecycle management reduces risks and costs
Fortunately, any organization can choose to automate the management of their certificates using advanced CLM technology. Modern CLM solutions can simplify and accelerate this transition for almost any organization and overcome the obstacles that stand in the way.
Companies migrating to automated CLM solutions:
- Can allocate and manage certificates of all types on demand.
- Reduce certificate management costs.
- Can automatically detect and replace expiring certificates, eliminating costly outages.
- Quickly and consistently authenticate new devices added to the infrastructure, eliminating human error and increasing scalability.
- Overall security will be greatly enhanced against malicious actors and malware, both known and unknown.
For these reasons, the automated CLM of PKI-based private and public certificate authentication is a game-changing opportunity for most businesses. The result? A much more secure, affordable and easier to manage identity security solution.