Enterprise key management may look complex, but it doesn’t have to be that challenging or intricate. Enterprises can use strong policy development, reliable access control, and centralized management to provide effective encryption key management in even the most complicated contexts.
The usage of encryption is expanding throughout businesses of all sizes as a result of publicized data losses and regulatory compliance requirements. A single firm can apply encryption on many various levels and channels, including protecting websites, email communications, user and organizational data, etc. This implies that a medium to large firm can manage hundreds of encryption keys at any given moment.
Here are the top four best encryption key management practices.
Centralization of key management system
Businesses frequently employ hundreds or even thousands of encryption keys. When firms need access to these keys immediately, properly and securely storing them can become a major issue. Consequently, a central key management system is required.
Having an internal key management service would be the best course of action for an organization. The usage of third-party services may be used for a more complex method if this is frequently not possible.
Usually, such keys are kept separate from encrypted data. This has the extra benefit of making it less likely for the encryption keys to be compromised during a data breach.
The centralized processing method is also advantageous in terms of processing since while storage, rotation, creation, etc. take place away from the actual location of the data, encryption and decryption are done locally.
Audit and access logs
Only those who need access to encryption keys should have it. This can be configured in the centralized key management procedure so that only authorized users are permitted access. Furthermore, it is crucial to avoid giving a single user exclusive access to the key, since this could lead to issues if the user loses their login information or if the system becomes compromised in some other way.
Additionally, audit logs are a crucial component in managing encryption keys. Each key’s history must be documented in logs, including its creation, deletion, and usage cycle. All operations involving such keys must be documented, including the activity, who accessed the key and when, among other details. This is an excellent practice that meets two requirements: the first is for compliance, and the second is for an investigation in the event that a key were to be compromised. Additionally, advantageous is their regular reporting and analysis.
Establish an employee encryption key management policy
Enterprises reduce the potential for exposure by assigning user roles and controlling access to their encryption keys. That’s just half the job done, though, since those who will have access to the keys need a set of guidelines/policies to tell them what to do and what not to. These guidelines must be followed just as strictly as an agreement to ensure that every choice is thoroughly considered. Setting up a separate training session to emphasize each subject in detail is also in everyone’s best interests.
However, that’s just 50% of the work done, as the people who are going to be accessing the keys must have a handbook of instructions/policies to advise them about what to do and what not. These guidelines must be followed just as rigorously as an agreement to ensure that every choice is thoroughly considered. Setting up a separate training session to emphasize each subject in detail is also in everyone’s best interests.
Never hard-code keys
It poses serious security risks to include sensitive information in source code. An attacker can directly access the key if the code is made public. Even though the code is private, the development team ends up becoming a popular target for hackers, which unnecessarily widens the attack surface.
Companies can have breaches that go completely unreported because an attacker can gain a key without compromising the management software. Hard coding a key not only increases risk without any justification but also hinders rollovers and overall cryptographic agility.