PKI Management for IoT

Gone are the days when inanimate objects coming to life and thinking on their own was a chapter out of a science fiction novel. With a bunch of sensors, a wireless network, and a data management system, any “not-so-smart” object can be turned into a “smart” device that’s capable of talking not just to humans but to other smart devices as well. IoT took the world by storm right from when it was conceived as a concept. There’s no realm that the IoT wave has left untouched – be it consumer or commercial, enterprise or industry.

2022 Ponemon Report: The State of Certificate Lifecycle Management in Global Organizations

Security Concerns in IoT

The Internet of Things is the next wave of innovation that connects the world at a more granular level. But, it comes with its own set of challenges. Privacy and security are among the significant challenges of IoT. Improper device updates, lack of efficient and robust security protocols and user unawareness are some of the biggest challenges that IoT is facing.

IoT devices constitute a significant portion of network-connected enterprise endpoints. But, conventional network perimeter defenses and legacy processes lack the ability to address increased and sophisticated IoT security issues. This has prompted CISOs and CIOs to move past legacy solutions and enhance their security posture to reliably enable IoT and protect their networks from existing and unknown threats.

IoT devices aren’t like conventional electronic devices, say laptops and smartphones that have built-in security functions. IoT devices are of myriad types and may use many different, non-standard software and vendor-oriented technologies that make implementing security measures in them extremely difficult. Some devices might transmit data in its unencrypted form, making it easy for hackers to launch their attacks.

Security lapses in IoT devices could occur at any stage – during manufacture, induction into the network, or software updates. These lapses open portals for hackers to smuggle in malware and corrupt the device. Since the devices are all connected, an anomaly in one device could compromise the entire network and cause other devices to malfunction as well. The repercussions could go as far as to affect the core network infrastructure and bring it down.

How do you guarantee security against these threats in an environment that changes almost everyday? Businesses need to take precautions to protect operations and data from such deliberate attacks. All businesses need confidence that their assets, systems and data are protected. That level of confidence is only possible if you weave security into your IoT fabric.

Control Your Certificates Before They Go Rogue!

Using PKI Certificates for IoT devices

A PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) offers a one-size-fits-all solution for all IoT devices, however unique they are. It employs X.509 digital certificates to identify devices, authenticate them, and encrypt data that flows between them. It removes the need for passwords and protracted authorization checks – devices can just identify each other with their public key and start exchanging data.

With point-to-point encryption and foolproof authentication, PKI certificates provide a safe environment for IoT devices to function without having to worry about data leakage and hacking concerns. They authenticate software upgrades as well- making it impossible for hackers to break into the network. PKIs are a core concept in TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocol, and implementing them into IoT can bring much-needed standardization and security to it.

PKI certificates can be obtained from a trusted certificate authority (CA).

Managing PKI Certificates for IoT

PKI certificates do not guarantee security by themselves — their efficacy depends on how well they are managed. In-house PKI management is not a viable option for IoT devices owing to their sheer number. A factory could easily be using thousands of IoT devices, and managing their certificates in-house levies an unnecessary strain on resources. Moreover, even one expired or compromised certificate left undetected can wreak havoc on the whole network, leading to outages and rampant attacks.

Managed PKI solutions offer end-to-end automation of certificates and keys, regardless of their numbers or where they are stored (HSMs, local file systems, etc.). They routinely scan your networks for certificates, provide a comprehensive report of their status, and send immediate alerts in case they detect an anomaly rising out of an expired or compromised certificate.

How AppViewX CERT+ helps you manage PKIs for IoT

AppViewX CERT+ helps organizations strengthen their IoT PKI by automating every step in its management. It discovers, maintains inventory, provisions, renews, and revokes certificates with minimal human investment.

In case of short-lived IoT device manufacturing, high volume of certificates is needed at very high rate. Device manufacture request these certificates from CERT+ using auto enrollment and simple certificate enrollment protocols. CERT+ fulfils the requirement based on pre-set policy either enrolling the certificates from an integrated third party CA or issuing certificates from a private CA setup via CERT+ itself.

CERT+ provides FIPS-compliant, AES-256 encrypted keystore to store all your certificates and keys, Apart from seamless integration with popular HSM’s, AppViewX CERT+ integrates with (and secures) edge IoT control planes and mobile device management (MDM) such as SOTI and MaaS360 to enforce closed-loop identity management, software/firmware security, and compliance. By providing airtight trust management, CERT+ makes OT an asset and not a liability in enterprise security.

Device identity provisioning and management

Provision certificates from any CA by any auto-enrollment protocol that the IoT device supports (EST, CMP, SCEP, NDES, ACME) through CERT+. If the device does not support any of the standard protocols, CERT+ deploys an agent on the device and allows you to provision certificates with your choice of protocol or adapter.

Enterprise level OT compliance

Make sure all of your IoT devices, wherever they are, follow the highest compliance standards. CERT+ ensures that your devices have not been compromised, are running the latest, thoroughly validated software or firmware versions, and have valid identities, with routine compliance checks and policy-based automation

Try AppViewX CERT+ now, or book a demo with us.

Let’s get you started on your certificate automation journey


  • certificate lifecycle management
  • Certificate Management
  • Private Key Management
  • SSL Certificate Management

About the Author

Nishevitha Ramamoorthy

Product Marketing Manager - AppViewX CERT+

Nishevitha is the product marketer at AppViewX. She writes, does research, and builds strategies to communicate the product's value to prospective buyers.

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