Digital certificates are the gatekeepers for modern e-commerce and all secure communications. But what are they? Where do they come from? How do you manage the process of issuing, distributing, and maintaining certificates, especially when you have lots of servers, and only a limited amount of time to configure them? Let’s answer these questions, one at a time.
What’s a Digital Certificate?
A digital certificate (also referred to as Identity certificate or public key certificate) is an electronic credential issued by a Certificate Authority (CA) – an entity that validates identities and certifies ownership of public keys. Some of the popular CAs include DigiCert, Sectigo, and Entrust. A digital certificate is required to exchange data securely over the Internet using the Public key infrastructure (PKI).
What Type of Security Does a Digital Certificate Provide?
- Identification/Authentication: To verify that you are indeed the person or entity that you say you are
- Confidentiality: The information in a message or transaction may only be understood by the actual sender and intended receiver
- Integrity: To validate that the original message or transaction has not been modified accidentally or intentionally
- Non-repudiation: The sender cannot deny sending the message and the receiver cannot deny receiving the message
Types of Digital Certificates
- TLS (Transport Layer Security) Certificate:
The objective of these certificates is to make sure that the communication between the client and the server is encrypted. SSL/TLS certificates are installed on servers, such as application servers, SMTP servers, web servers, etc. A website that relies on an SSL/TLS certificate displays a padlock symbol in the address bar, and the secure URL begins with https:// rather than http://, where the “s” stands for “secure”.
- Client Certificates:
These certificates are used by client systems to prove their identity to the remote server. Client certificates play a vital role in many mutual authentication designs, providing validation of requestor’s identity.
- Code Signing Certificates:
A digital signature that’s added to software by its publisher, verifies that the code has not been tampered with after it was signed. Code signing certificates also acts as a proof that files have not been tampered with since download.
Why Do We Need SSL/TLS Certificates?
In today’s digital world, SSL/TLS certificates are no longer a luxury, but an absolute necessity.
Here are just some of the main benefits of using TLS:
- TLS protects data
- TLS affirms your identity
- It gives you better search engine ranking
- TLS helps you satisfy Payment Card Industry requirements
- Improves customer trust
How Do You Get an SSL Certificate?
Here’s a simple diagram on how a user would go about requesting and receiving a certificate from a Certificate Authority. For more details on how the process works –SSL Certificates and Protocol
How Does AppViewX Help?
AppViewX helps you create and manage certificates through automation. It uses an intuitive UI, which allows you to keep track of all your certificates, even if you have thousands, or tens of thousands of them. After you configure the CA settings, AppViewX follows a simple workflow to generate a private key (in device or escrow), create a CSR, and submit it to the CA. The CA responds back with the certificate, which is then configured by AppViewX for the target device.
For organizations that has to deploy hundreds of servers within a short period, AppViewX can help automate the process in bulk using visual workflow.
All AppViewX needs from the security team is a .csv file with certificate details and server names.
Each server is managed in the AppViewX devices Inventory, where the workflow can get all relevant information and push certificates to their respective servers.
AppViewX can also provide a report following a successful creation and pushing of certificates.
But there’s so much more to PKI lifecycle than issuing certificates and pushing them to end devices. AppViewX offers an entire certificate management suite, CERT+, which provides end-to-end automation of key and certificate lifecycles across multi-cloud environments. AppViewX makes certificate management process more streamlined and efficient, allowing for endless upward scalability and cryptographic agility.