The importance of managing digital certificates

Apr 1, 2022, 13:54 PM by Riaan De Villiers
Digital certificates help organisations stay secure. However, when not managed correctly they could be responsible for a security incident. Today we present five key factors of a good certificate management program to prevent outages and breaches.

The importance of managing digital certificates

Digital certificate management

During the last two years, the way we do business changed radically. The pandemic forced businesses to think creatively to continue daily operations. Digital transformation and process automation played a significant role in helping businesses operate and stay competitive.

A survey conducted by McKinsey found that consumers are drastically moving to online channels and companies and industries noticed. Organisations adopted strategies and technologies to engage their customers through online channels. The world is embracing digital transformation like never before.

While digital transformation helps organisations stay competitive, it comes with a downside though. The increased use of online services is leading to a vastly increased number of machines and services to manage – increasing the attack surface.

To protect their data, many organisations use digital certificates. Digital certificates provide solid reliable protection, however, management of the certificates can be tricky business. A single certificate that expires or is insecure can cause a lot of chaos. It is therefore important that certificates must be managed carefully. Below are five points of a good certificate management strategy.

Maintain visibility

Be aware of every certificate that your organisation deploys! Regularly scanning corporate networks for certificates will help the administration staff identify problematic certificates. Knowing where problematic certificates are will help to close potential security threats.

Create a certificate inventory

After scanning the network, the results must be stored and maintained. It will aid with the management of the certificates and prevent outages or threats before they happen.

Define a certificate management policy

Not all employees that use certificates for protection are experts in the certificate life cycle. Defining a consistent policy and responsibilities for certificate owners will help avoid ‘blame games’ in the event of an incident.

Protect private keys

The private keys used by digital certificates are the key to the kingdom and must be prevented from falling into the hands of a malicious actor. It is highly recommended that private keys be stored on specialized cryptographic hardware that carries the appropriate accreditation.

Continuous monitoring

Once the certificate management process is in place, the infrastructure must be monitored continuously to discover any gaps or risks that might be present.

By implementing a robust certificate management program, organisations empower themselves to identify risks and resolve them before an incident occurs.