What is Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)?
PKI incorporates many technology components to authenticate users and devices inside a digital environment. The essential purposes of a PKI are confidentiality and authentication. PKI provides secure access to physical and digital resources, enabling digital document/transaction signing and, most importantly, safe communication between people, services, and technology. To encrypt and decode messages, cryptosystems employ mathematical functions or programs and protocols.
PKI is built around the CIA, which must be implemented and covered by every security procedure, layer, or program.
It is a method of ensuring that information transmitted between two parties remains private and is not viewed or revealed by/to anyone else.
It refers to the process of ensuring that a message in transit maintains its integrity; the message content is not altered while in transit. Hashing helps protect data integration.
This component of the CIA relates to the actual availability of the data. Authentication techniques, access routes, and systems must function properly to safeguard information and guarantee availability when needed.
Challenges with On-Prem PKI
Requires a lot of upfront investment, takes time, and is rigid
The first thing that comes into mind for setting up on-prem PKI is the need for security experts who will design the PKI, set up policies, and maintain it continuously. Good security professionals are scarce and expensive.
The next thing is costly hardware for encryption and storing private keys. The hardware, when procured, also needs to be deployed at a physically secured place with proper guarding in place. The hardware needs to be refreshed periodically as well. The same applies to the software – the software is costly and requires periodic upgrades. Overall, it is a considerable expense – both from Capex and Opex perspectives.
Then come the lengthy policies and procedures that are to be created initially and followed throughout operations. Many times, it is said that these procedures slow down the speed of business innovation.
After ensuring these things are in place, enterprises can create certificate authority (CA) and issue certificates securely. Provisioning these certificates to the devices and applications that have to use these certificates needs to be done manually, or a separate certificate lifecycle management (CLM) system should be implemented.
Why Cloud-based PKI?
One of the most significant advantages of a managed PKI solution over an in-house approach is the speed and cost-effectiveness with which device provisioning can be implemented. To get up and be running, organizations do not need to go through the complete deployment process and the setting up of facilities, technologies, and processes.
Furthermore, an in-house PKI necessitates extensive planning and infrastructure; it might be challenging to adapt to changes in the market or a company’s objective. On the other hand, a managed PKI service enables scalable identity provisioning that may be scaled up or down on-demand.
Moving the PKI to the cloud can relieve us of multiple security controls, maintenance responsibilities, and infrastructure costs. The capital investment and expertise required to implement and manage a secure, internally run PKI properly is significant, forcing many organizations to delegate critical PKI operations. The infrastructure teams can focus on other mission-critical projects if the right cloud-hosted PKI as-a-service platform is set up.
As inexperienced hands fall on mission-critical infrastructure, shifts in PKI ownership invariably increase the risk of security gaps. Regular maintenance tasks like signing and publishing certificate revocation lists (CRLs) and renewing CAs can cause significant outages that can take days or even weeks to fix. When the PKI is deployed in the cloud, organizations can rest assured that their infrastructure will continue to function at total capacity even if the IT and security staff change.
AppViewX can help
AppViewX CERT+ is a turnkey solution for all enterprise PKI needs. With AppViewX CERT+, enterprises can quickly set up their internal root CA as well as issuing CAs without having to invest upfront in costly hardware or complicated processes, or cumbersome PKI operations. Certificate lifecycle management (CLM) in CERT+ simplifies all certificate operations between CA and the applications where certificates are used.