Three Goals of PKI

The primary goals of a quality PKI deployment are comprehensive security, operational efficiency, and business continuity. If we do not ultimately achieve greater security, simplified administration, and increased productivity through the use of certificates, our goals have not been met. Either way, we haven’t achieved what PKI is capable of delivering today and in the future.

A key element of all three goals is automation. An automated approach optimizes PKI management throughout the enterprise and across IoT devices. Automation swaps out aging algorithms and ensures updated certificates are applied. For enterprises, it allows certificates to be re-used, saves administrators time, and enables crypto-agility.

Why is automation so important? One of the leading sources of errors like data breaches or financial loss, is not technology but rather, human negligence. Manual processes set us up for a higher than acceptable rate of error, and ultimately increases exposure and risk. As our infrastructures and workloads grow in size and complexity, that rate only increases. PKI automation is a proven way of ensuring these overarching goals are met no matter how sizable or complex the steps are to reach them.

01 | Comprehensive Security

Simply put, PKI automation reduces the room for errors that result in risk and harm. Not only does it ensure that tasks are performed correctly, it also ensures they’re being done comprehensively. A good example is the very common renewal or replacement of certificates and their deployment to servers, IoT devices and network appliances. Automation ensures that the correct certificate is always requested and issued using the correct template with proper parameters. Additionally, automation will ensure that all endpoints requiring new certificates are immediately addressed. PKI automation eliminates the chance of forgetting about an endpoint (because it went temporarily offline, for example) and leaving unsafe certificates, bad keys, and untrusted roots active.

02 | Operational Efficiency

Operational efficiency is a goal in nearly everything we set out to do. In the realm of PKI, our desire may be to save money in the performance of routine tasks, or enable our resources to take on additional, higher-priority workloads. Very often, often it’s a combination of both. Automation of key certificate lifecycle management tasks reduces the amount of manual work required, while reducing the time it takes to complete them.

03 | Business Continuity

One of the most common causes for system outages is certificate expiration. One of the most common causes for expired certificates is the manual process used to renew, reissue, and deploy them. Working from lists that grow and change each day, within networks that spring up new endpoints (many of them from Shadow IT efforts) faster than an administrator can spot them, there is simply no way for an administrator to have full oversight unless PKI automation is in play. There will always be the one “I missed” and someone will most likely find out about it once it’s too late. Through automated discovery of endpoints, automated reporting on impending expirations, and automated handling of renewal and re-issuance, you can be confident with the elements in place designed to ultimately keep servers up, do not paradoxically take them down.

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