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Due to the changing security threats, there is a need to enforce more stringent software, network, and hardware protection policies and procedures. One of these procedures is the public key infrastructure (PKI) which uses certificates to authenticate, validate and verify access to company systems, databases, and networks. It is currently fronted as one of the best verification and encryption tools for securing all the infrastructure and communication.
Therefore, businesses, regardless of size, must emphasize the implementation of PKIs and boost the best practices to feel the full impacts and benefits. Some of these policies include constant management and monitoring to ensure suitability for all security needs. Here are some guidelines to effectively manage and streamline the system.
Why Organizations Need PKI
For organizational systems, software vendors, and other public systems, verifying the authenticity of the devices, users, and networks can be challenging. This can lead to installing the wrong software from the wrong source or unauthorized access to the company system and communication channels.
Therefore, organizations and systems users rely on PKI to verify, authenticate and validate their access, legitimacy, and accessibility. Businesses need managed pki to boost their security strategies to prevent unauthorized access or installation of wrong software in company devices.
Other applications include securing email communications, company local networks and systems, and securing websites and data based on both on-premise and cloud-based databases.
Components of PKI
The PKI configuration consists of five crucial elements. These elements include certificate authority (CA) which serves as the root of trust during the implementation process and is critical for authenticating systems users, networks, and computers.
The CA has a subordinate commonly referred to as the registration authority (RA) issued for other designated needs; however, the authority is normally issued by the root CA. Due to the constant interactions and transactions. The third element, the certificate database, stores all the requests issued, any revoked certificates and all other transactions.
The fourth element is the certificate store, which saves all the issued certificates, all the requests, such as the pending, rejected and approved from all the devices in the system. Finally, the fifth component is the key archival server which saves all the encrypted private keys in the certificate database. To effectively manage PKI, the company must consider all these components to boost efficiency and effectiveness.
PKI Implementation Models
The PKI implementation process can take different approaches: The implementation process is essential for PKI efficiency and to meet all the organization’s needs. Therefore, the process must be streamlined and all the elements covered.
1. On-Premise PKI for Cloud and On-Premise Use Cases
This involves implementing the PKI on the on-premise systems and extending the capabilities for cloud systems. In this process, you are to retain the root CA and issue CA on the on-premise database. The team will spin up the issuing CA to cover cloud services. This approach is effective for CA security away from the cloud; however, scaling up the certificate for cloud operations can be challenging and time-consuming.
2. Multiple PKIs for On-premise and Multi-Cloud Deployments
This is another approach to serve both on-premise and cloud infrastructure. This approach involves having different certifications whereby the on-premise systems are served by root and issuing CA, all stored in the on-premise system.
Cloud platforms will have their issuing and managing certificates on the cloud. The implementation guidelines suit companies with sensitive data that cannot be linked to any other cloud platform and must be retained on-premises.
The shortcoming of this approach is the high management and set-up costs. All these certificates must be managed independently, thereby challenging, and the team can easily lose focus.
3. Cloud PKI for Cloud and On-Premise Use Cases
In this approach, the root and issuing CA are retained on the cloud databases and extended to manage on-premise systems. It requires cloud-native PKIs to operate efficiently. You can select from PKIs such as Google CAS, AWS certificate manager etc. It can best serve hybrid models and suitable for rising organization depend and deployment of various system such as IoT.
4. Using a PKI-as-a-Service (PKIaas) Solution
This is the simplest and most streamlined; however, you pay subscription fees to the certificate issuer. It can serve both cloud and on-premise deployments. The third part is managing and controlling the keys; hence they handle all the risks.
Best Practice During Deployment
To successfully deploy and manage PKI, the company must enforce various practices.
· Certificate Management Practices
Enforce the best practices in managing the certificate lifecycle instead of focusing on individual certificates. Due to the number of certificates issued, requests, and pending, managing the entire lifecycle is ideal for monitoring all transactions. There is also a need to conduct frequent certificate authority audits to ensure you abide by the CP/CPS and other security guidelines.
· Additional Security Measures
Besides the normal security guidelines and protocols, an additional security layer should be needed to manage private keys. Extend the security measures to protect the root CA. Implement security measures for both on-premise and cloud-based systems. Boost internal security by integrating IoT and machine learning to detect and deter internal attacks early. If any certificate is compromised, revoke them immediately.
Creating higher levels of organizational security is critical for company image and reputation and to avoid financial losses and disruption hence the need for PKI. Despite being a robust way to secure systems, networks, and communication, you must deploy additional security and practices to ensure the PKI infrastructures are safe. With all the best practices in management and implementation followed your business should have one of the most robust security systems.