Identifying and Controlling Risk with Automated Certificate Management

Identifying and Controlling Risk with Automated Certificate Management

When it comes to network security, small mistakes like lost credentials or misconfigured settings can cost businesses thousands of dollars. Therefore, to combat this, cybersecurity experts have been working to maximize automation all through the certificate lifecycle to reduce the chances of a security breach resulting from an avoidable accident.

High-profile outages resulting from expired digital identity certificates have been in the news for some time now, with widely-used platforms suffering from severe disruptions. In February 2020, Microsoft Teams was down for around three hours due to an expired certificate, temporarily crippling the service for users depending on it for teleconferences.

In August 2020, an even more serious example made headlines, as California accidentally underreported the number of COVID-19 cases due to a system backlog resulting from an expired certificate that prevented data uploads. Certificates are crucial for device and website security, and failing to manage them properly creates serious, real-world consequences.

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With the industry’s decision to reduce the lifetime of TLS/SSL certificate to 398 days, businesses now must renew certificates more frequently. However, manually doing so can be cumbersome for the IT teams, and it also increases the risk of human error when renewing or rolling out certificates. But, with advanced automation, enterprises can easily manage their certificate lifecycles and prevent outages before disaster can strike.

Automated Certificate Management

Enterprises have a massive number of certificates in use, and it only continues to grow larger as IoT and other connected devices increasingly enter the market. With numerous individuals working remotely and accessing corporate networks from personal devices amid the pandemic, the importance of effective certificate and identity management has grown multifold.

Let’s look at a few reasons why automation will be the future of certificate management:

  • Managing Certificates – Earlier, it may have been possible for businesses to manage the renewal process via spreadsheets as they were dealing with comparatively small numbers of certificates. Today, the number of certificates in use in an organization has reached thousands, and it is no longer viable to do so manually.
  • The Power of Automation – Going through spreadsheets can cause human error. It could be in the form of failing to correctly provision a new certificate or forgetting to renew an expiring certificate, and these mistakes could have potentially damaging consequences. With the current scale of certificates, automation is the only possible way to avoid human error.
  • Third-party tools – Today, there are several tools at the disposal of organizations to manage both public and private certificates through a single platform. This streamlines not only the discovery of all certificates across the organization but also renewal, provisioning, and revocation.

Also Read: Cloud Misconfigurations Can Scar Brand Reputation

Many of the certificate managers available in the market are compatible with today’s Representation State Transfer (REST) APIs. They offer integration with modern business necessities like the public cloud and DevOps platforms. Also, using certificate management tools that leverage protocols like Automated Certificate Management Environment (ACME) can minimize several issues. Today, it is possible to set expiring certificates to automatically renew and avoid costly errors with just a click of the button.

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