Ever-evolving security challenges are dominating today’s IT landscape. Malicious actors are using every avenue possible to access sensitive and valuable data, from social engineering and DDoS to brute force methods. For example:
- Phishing surged by 250% at the start of 2016, according to a Phishing Activity Trends Report conducted by the Anti-Phishing Working Group.
- The FBI has processed around 4,200 ransomware incidents, with estimated victims’ financial damages at $47 million, solely in the last two years.
This kind of tumultuous threat environment has created the need for enterprises and organizations at large to ensure they’re staying ahead of vulnerabilities and making use of all security tools available.
PKI as a Foundational Security Technology
Some core security technologies have been around for a while—public key infrastructure (PKI), for example. Here’s the problem: while PKI has long been used to authenticate and encrypt critical information, which is a proven, effective security control, IT organizations commonly associate its lengthy history with a false sense of safety. While PKI remains to be a critical access control tool, infrastructures that were secure at implementation will not remain secure over time if not maintained at the level necessary for supporting businesses’ security objectives, and proper maintenance is often overlooked.
It’s important to make regular PKI health evaluation process part of your IT lifecycle. Compliance mandates, business changes, and the evolution of cryptography as a practice area are all great reasons to consider how you’re managing your PKI given the changes to the security of your infrastructure. When well-managed, your PKI should uphold assurance from its implementation through the entirety of its lifecycle, while enabling adherence to reporting, compliance and audit requirements; but it’s not an easy feat. That’s why considering a professionally managed PKI is a viable option for most businesses.
Solving Security Challenges with Professionally Managed PKI
Every organization’s security needs are different, but the challenges of dealing with an in-house PKI are the same:
- PKIs are complex to begin with.
- Finding the right resources with the right expertise is a difficult endeavor.
- Lack of access to the right tools and processes makes tracking and management a hurdle.
A professionally managed PKI is essentially your PKI, but with a stewardship approach—you’re no longer responsible for maintaining it in-house. A reputable provider will offer a solution that gives your business complete control over of Root CA keys and PKI recovery materials, while design, deployment and management obligations are their responsibility. Managed PKI enables organizations to reap the benefits of a dedicated, highly customizable Public Key Infrastructure, but without the demand, and without per-certificate costs.
An effective managed PKI will visibly demonstrate security operations and those who control them, as well as critical security events. This allows businesses to trust in the investment they’ve made without using resources on the responsibilities associated with a PKI.
Managed PKI is a feasible solution for organizations who want to optimize access control efforts without affecting the productivity of internal staff. Overall, the common use cases for managed PKI services can be broken down into the enterprise (securing data, and devices within a corporation), and the IoT (securing the connection of non-traditional items to the Internet).
Managed PKI Brings Increased Efficiency and Improved Cost Effectiveness
A far as increased efficiency goes, the greatest benefit to entrusting a third-party with your PKI is not only the freedom from the responsibility of running it, but maintaining ownership of the keys. Further, your security team will have time to focus on critical projects, while your PKI is being dealt with by specialists who work with the necessary toolsets on a daily basis. The CAs stay running, certificates get issued, and your business saves time and effort.
Avoiding significant output of capital expenditure is also a helpful benefit. Management software, maintenance, employee training, monitoring, and health checks are just a few of the demands that generate expense continually throughout the life of an internal PKI—none of which are involved with outsourcing it.
An in-house PKI deployment is over 2x the cost of using a managed service.
Summing Up the Case for Managed PKI
Cybersecurity threats aren’t going anywhere, and consequently, neither is the need for a strong security posture. No matter how it’s maintained, properly managing your PKI is absolutely critical.