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Five things to keep in mind before building your own PKI

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A significant part of securing a network is to protect data as it moves between data centers. Public key infrastructure (PKI) plays a critical role in protecting data by securing trust between connected devices. The PKI solutions are highly regarded as the best way to secure, authenticate and encrypt a network. It deals with digital certificates that prove legitimacy and ownership of security keys. Organizations can build their own PKI infrastructure by keeping the following things in mind.

 

  • Identify certificate requirements

 

 

Start by identifying all current and future requirements for digital certificates when building our own PKI. This entails the current certificates within your Public Key Infrastructure and how you plan to use them. Some of the standard certificates are SSL/TLS used to secure communication channels between a server and the client and code signing that signs the code to verify the owner.

Public key infrastructure comprises protocols, services, and standards. As a cybersecurity framework, PKI deals with client authentication, digital signatures, and public and private keys. The public and private keys are essential elements used for data encryption. The role of these keys is to encrypt and decrypt data using cryptography to secure a network. Before building a PKI, ensure you identify and understand certificate requirements and their role.

 

  • Select the correct certificate authority

 

 

Depending on your requirement, select the type of Certificate Authority that fits your needs. There are several certificate authorities such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. Before settling on one CA, consider factors such as customer service, available tools, and CA’s thought leadership. An excellent certificate authority should offer more than certificates to help speed up your growth.

The PKI relies on a certificate authority that issues the root certificate and other digital certificates. You must have the CA to access any secure networks such as a web server. A certificate authority is the independent provider of digital certificates in PKI infrastructure.

Therefore, selecting the right CA is crucial in building your own PKI infrastructure. A trustworthy certificate authority will ensure that your network is secure and safe to use in a highly competitive marketplace. They provide services to protect businesses by adopting new technologies to ensure dependability. Since website security is vital to a company, the CA should have the infrastructure that is up to the task.

 

  • Choose between cloud or on-premises hosting.

 

 

In building your own PKI, choose between cloud or on-premise hosting. On-premise PKI entails handling all PKI and certificate management processes within the facility. It is more secure if you have the expertise and will allow experts appropriate time to manage. The on-premises enable organizations to have total control over sensitive commercial areas.

Cloud-based PKI is externally hosted, reducing the financial burden on individual organizations. It allows organizations to minimize some expensive costs associated with PKI deployments, such as personnel training and infrastructure. Hence, you won’t need an on-premise infrastructure to handle the technology when using managed services. 

Migrating from on-premise to cloud-based PKI removes most issues related to managing the system. With this hosting, you get a more tailored solution compatible with your security infrastructure.

 

 

  • Understand certificate management

 

 

Setting up your own PKI infrastructure does not automatically secure your networks. Proper certificate management is fundamental to your organization’s security strategy. An essential requirement of building a PKI is to automate certificate management operations to avoid simple mistakes that may prove costly in network security.

Certificate management is a combination of several processes, such as generating PKI certificates and revoting them in a network. It also describes the distribution and renewal of PKI certificates to keep them functioning at an optimal level. However, the lack of experience in finding the proper certificate management solutions is a big hurdle in certificate management.

While digital certificates work well when properly configured, you must see the complete picture of how certificate management relates to the PKI. It is concerned with certificates issued by a mutually trusted CA. Once digital certificates are issued, you must manage them diligently through the entire validity period.

 

  • Securing your root CA private keys

 

 

You must store the root CA and all cryptographic materials properly as the most prized possession. As the root of trust, this CA is vital to PKI and must be well secured. The theft of private root keys can enable an attacker to take over your public key infrastructure and issue bogus certificates. The compromise will force revocation and re-issuance of all previously issued certificates. It will also destroy the trust of your PKI and increase the costs of re-establishing a new root CA.

Therefore, you need to secure your root CA private throughout the building process. You must safeguard the key at all costs to ensure no person gains unauthorized access. This is possible with a certified hardware security module (HSM) to protect the root CA private keys. Moreover, it is a tamper-resistant device that meets the highest security standards. It is the most critical aspect of the system that functions as the basis of building the PKI.

Final Thoughts

 

Many companies are turning on digital certificates to increase the level of security on their networks. Public key infrastructure manages cryptographic keys and digital credentials to establish trust relationships. However, PKI is more complicated than you may realize as it operates on a timescale. Building this infrastructure depends on your organization’s needs and understanding of critical elements.

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