Why Manual Certificate Management Doesn’t Scale

Enterprises that offer any of their services online (either to customers, or internally), have a significant stake in ensuring constant uptime for all the applications they control. Customer-facing applications are especially critical, given that security breaches or outages could result in a loss of credibility and business for the vendor.

Digital certificates are a component of application security, but it is important to note that managing these certificates is a challenge on its own. Enterprises may have upwards of a thousand applications distributed over multiple geographical locations, and the total number of certificates installed on assorted endpoints may range well into the hundreds of thousands. For smaller deployments, these certificates can be comfortably managed (renewed, installed, revoked, and circulated) using a simple spreadsheet-based tracking system. However, in cases of heavy deployments like the one mentioned above, a more sophisticated, centralized approach is necessary.

Let’s take a closer look at why manual certificate management isn’t exactly a great way to handle PKI.

  • It’s Time-Consuming

For normal-sized deployments, spreadsheet-based certificate lifecycle tracking systems can stretch over thousands of rows. Regardless of the efficiency of spreadsheet-operation, the manual effort can be quite time-consuming. 

  • Sorting is Inefficient

When manual methods are used to manage certificates, care has to be taken that the certificates are carefully sorted and arranged to prevent chaos from breaking out. They might have to be arranged based on the importance of the application they are installed on, the validity of the certificates themselves (according to the date and time formats of certain CAs), and so on. Once that’s done, they have to be configured with email reminders for the initiation of renewal/revocation processes, and follow-ups with the Certificate Authority for the veracity of the request.

Finally, once a certificate is received, it needs to be installed on the end application/device and tested to validate if it’s in working order. Throw in the possibility of manual error, and this process could take hours, or even days for a single batch of certificates. 

  • It Takes Significant Manpower

All things considered, the certificate renewal and installation process can take anywhere between ten calendar days to a month to complete. Multiply that with the number of active certificates on file, and most teams have a big problem on their hands. Teams just aren’t big enough to perform activities of that magnitude on a cyclic basis. What’s more, certificate lifespans have been reduced to a year, which means trouble. Entire teams could work on managing the certificate lifecycle, but given their manual operation, they could still end up with missed renewals owing to an unexpected certificate expiration

Automation is the Answer.

Naturally, the solution to the above issues is automation. By implementing a system that can  automatically locate every certificate on the network, notify teams on expiration dates and invalidities, and assist in streamlining and automating the CSR generation/ certificate installation process, teams can save infinitely more time and eliminate the possibility of manual error as well. These systems are called certificate lifecycle management platforms, and assist teams in handling end-to-end management of PKI certificate and keys. The best ones also provide no-code automation capabilities that can be leveraged across the board, allowing for PKI teams to get more done in less time, and using less manual effort (thereby increasing efficiency).

AppviewX CERT+ is one of the few tools on the market that not only offers certificate/key lifecycle management and automation, but also integrates with a wide range of PKI, security, and network service vendors (HSMs, ITSM tools, PAM systems, Load balancers, servers, cloud apps, containers, DevOps tools, IoT etc.), thereby allowing for an omni-channel PKI management experience. 

Sign up for a demo now to discover how we can help you business supercharge your PKI.

Shiva Kumar

About the Author

Shiva Kumar

Customer Success Architect

Enabling customers to resolve business challenges by designing solutions and facilitating a better understanding of the AppViewX platform.

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