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Code signing certificates play a crucial role in ensuring software authenticity and integrity. However, they have also become prime targets for supply chain attacks, posing risks to the entire software supply chain. This article explores the targeting of code signing certificates in supply chain attacks, their impact on organizations, and measures to protect against such threats.

Understanding Supply Chain Attacks

Supply chain attacks are cyberattacks that exploit vulnerabilities in an organization’s supply chain. These attacks compromise third-party vendors, suppliers, or contractors to gain unauthorized access to the target organization’s systems. Attackers exploit the lower security measures of these third parties and use tactics like malware injection or data theft to propagate throughout the supply chain network. Successful supply chain attacks can have severe consequences, including data breaches, intellectual property theft, financial losses, and reputational damage.

In today’s interconnected digital landscape, supply chain attacks have emerged as a significant and evolving threat to cybersecurity. These attacks exploit vulnerabilities in an organization’s supply chain, targeting third-party vendors, suppliers, and contractors to gain unauthorized access to valuable systems and data. By infiltrating the systems of these trusted entities, attackers can move laterally within the supply chain network, potentially compromising multiple interconnected systems and wreaking havoc on organizations. It is crucial for businesses to understand the nature of supply chain attacks and take proactive measures to protect their digital assets.

Code Signing Certificates as Supply Chain Attack Targets

Code signing certificates, which verify the authenticity and integrity of software, have become attractive targets for supply chain attacks. Attackers compromise the code signing process to inject malicious code into legitimate software, which is then distributed through regular software channels. Detecting such attacks becomes challenging, and their impact can be widespread. Attackers can acquire code signing certificates by compromising development environments, employing social engineering techniques, or using stolen or forged certificates to make their malware appear legitimate. Examples of supply chain attacks involving code signing certificates include the SolarWinds malware incident in 2020.

Code signing certificates, once considered a cornerstone of software security, have now become attractive targets for supply chain attacks. These certificates provide digital signatures that verify the authenticity and integrity of software, assuring users that it has not been tampered with and originates from a trusted source. However, attackers have recognized the potential of compromising code signing certificates to distribute malicious software through legitimate channels, making detection and prevention challenging. This insidious tactic puts millions of users at risk, and organizations must recognize the vulnerability of their code signing infrastructure and take necessary precautions to safeguard against such attacks.

Impact of Code Signing Certificate Compromise

Compromised code signing certificates can have severe consequences for organizations:

  • Damage to Reputation

    Compromised certificates can erode user trust in software vendors, leading to reputational damage and reluctance to download future releases.

  • Financial Loss

    Reduced trust can result in decreased sales and revenue, while remediating the situation through certificate revocation and reissuance incurs additional costs.

  • Legal Liability

    Harm caused to users due to compromised certificates can result in legal liabilities and costly legal battles.

  • Spread of Malware

    Attackers can inject malicious code into legitimate software, which unknowing users download, leading to harm and potential legal consequences.

  • Compliance Violations

    Compliance requirements may be violated due to compromised certificates, resulting in regulatory fines and legal liabilities.

Protecting Against Code Signing Certificate Compromise

In the face of the growing threat of code signing certificate compromise, organizations need to adopt robust security measures to protect their software integrity and regain user trust. By implementing comprehensive strategies, organizations can mitigate the risks associated with code signing certificate compromise and prevent the potential devastating consequences. Measures such as secure certificate storage, two-factor authentication, regular auditing, and swift certificate revocation are essential to maintain the integrity of code signing certificates and ensure that only legitimate software reaches end-users. With careful planning and a proactive approach, organizations can effectively safeguard their code signing infrastructure and protect both their reputation and the security of their software supply chain.

Organizations can take several measures to protect against code signing certificate compromise:

  • Secure Certificate Storage

    Implement robust security measures to protect certificates, including password protection, encryption, and limited access to trusted personnel.

  • Two-Factor Authentication

    Enhance security by implementing two-factor authentication, requiring additional verification alongside passwords, such as security tokens or biometrics.

  • Regular Certificate Auditing

    Conduct periodic audits to detect irregularities, unauthorized requests, and revoked certificates.

  • Certificate Revocation

    Swiftly revoke compromised certificates, including associated keys, to prevent further misuse.

  • Limited Certificate Access

    Restrict access to code signing certificates to authorized personnel with a legitimate need, promptly revoking access when no longer necessary.

  • Secure Network Connections

    Transmit code signing certificates over secure network connections using encryption protocols like SSL or TLS to prevent interception and misuse.

  • Vulnerability Scanning

    Regularly scan for vulnerabilities in code signing certificate systems, including malware, phishing attacks, and other potential cyber threats.


Code signing certificates are essential for software security but are increasingly targeted in supply chain attacks. The compromise of code signing certificates can have severe consequences, including reputation damage, financial losses, legal liabilities, malware propagation, and compliance violations. Organizations must prioritize secure storage, two-factor authentication, regular auditing, and robust security measures to protect against code signing certificate compromise. Continuous vigilance and proactive measures are crucial to mitigate risks and safeguard against potential damage.

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Datasheet of Code Signing Solution

Code signing is a process to confirm the authenticity and originality of digital information such as a piece of software code.

secure and flexible code signing solution

About the Author

Ambika Rastogi is a Consultant at Encryption Consulting, working with PKIs, HSMs, and working as a consultant with high-profile clients.

Reading Time : 3 minutes

The SolarWinds cyberattack, discovered in December 2020, affected numerous government agencies and private companies worldwide. The incident raised concerns about the security of software supply chains. To determine where security should reside, it’s important to understand InfoSec (information security) and DevOps (development operations).

The SolarWinds attack involved compromising SolarWinds’ network management software, impacting an estimated 18,000 customers, including major government agencies. It was a supply chain attack, highlighting the need to secure software supply chains.

InfoSec and DevOps: What are they?

Before diving into the SolarWinds attack and the role of security, it’s important to understand what InfoSec and DevOps are.

InfoSec involves protecting information systems, networks, and data from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction. InfoSec teams identify vulnerabilities, develop security policies, and educate users on best practices.

DevOps is an approach to software development that emphasizes collaboration and communication between development and operations teams. It aims to streamline the development process by automating tasks, continuously testing code, and integrating workflows for faster, reliable software releases.

The SolarWinds Attack

In December 2020, cybersecurity experts discovered that attackers had compromised SolarWinds, which provides network management software to numerous government agencies and private companies worldwide. The attackers had inserted a backdoor into the SolarWinds Orion software, allowing them to access sensitive data and systems. The attack affected an estimated 18,000 SolarWinds customers, including major government agencies such as the US Department of Homeland Security and the Treasury Department.

The SolarWinds attack was a supply chain attack, meaning that the attackers targeted a third-party software vendor rather than the organizations themselves. This attack is becoming increasingly common and highlights the importance of securing software supply chains.

Where should security live: InfoSec or DevOps?

The SolarWinds attack raises the question of whether security should live in InfoSec or DevOps. Some argue that security should be the responsibility of InfoSec teams, while others argue that security should be integrated into the DevOps process.

Secure data with encryption assessment

Arguments for InfoSec

  • Focus on risk management

    InfoSec teams are trained to focus on risk management and threat mitigation. They have a deep understanding of the potential vulnerabilities and threats that an organization may face, and they are equipped to develop and implement policies and procedures to protect against those threats.

  • Independence

    InfoSec teams are independent of the development process, which allows them to provide an unbiased perspective on security issues. They are not subject to the pressures of meeting development deadlines and can prioritize security concerns without compromising the development process.

Arguments for DevOps

  • Security as code

    DevOps teams are responsible for creating and deploying code, so they are best positioned to integrate security into the development process. By incorporating security into the code, DevOps teams can ensure that security is built into the software from the beginning rather than being bolted on as an afterthought.

  • Faster response times

    DevOps teams are responsible for deploying code quickly and efficiently. By integrating security into the development process, DevOps teams can respond more quickly to security issues and vulnerabilities, minimizing the risk of a successful attack.

Here are some factors to consider when deciding where security should reside

  • Organizational culture

    Depending on whether the organization prioritizes security and compliance or innovation and agility, either InfoSec or DevOps may be better suited.

  • Development methodology

    In the case of a waterfall development methodology, a separate InfoSec team may be more appropriate. However, with Agile or DevOps methodologies, integrating security measures into the development process may be more feasible

  • Regulatory compliance

    If the organization must adhere to stringent regulatory requirements, a separate InfoSec team may be necessary to ensure compliance. However, if the organization is not required to meet such regulations, a DevOps approach could be a viable option.

  • Skillset and resources

    Leveraging the knowledge of a large, experienced InfoSec team may be the best course of action. Conversely, if the InfoSec team is small or if security needs are constantly changing, a DevOps approach may be more practical.


The question of where security should live – in InfoSec or DevOps – is not straightforward. Both approaches have their merits, and the best approach will depend on the organization and its specific needs. Ultimately, the most effective approach will likely involve a combination of InfoSec and DevOps. InfoSec teams should be responsible for setting security policies.

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Datasheet of Encryption Consulting Services

Encryption Consulting is a customer focused cybersecurity firm that provides a multitude of services in all aspects of encryption for our clients.

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About the Author

Ambika Rastogi is a Consultant at Encryption Consulting, working with PKIs, HSMs, and working as a consultant with high-profile clients.

Deploying an Active Directory Certificate Services is a straightforward way for enterprises to build their PKI infrastructure. But it does have its shortcomings, such as

  • Lack of deployment in multiple regions
  • High latency on CDP and AIA points

In this article, we will be showing you how your own PKI architecture while you host your CDP/AIA points on AWS.

Note: If this is your first time deploying a PKI, I recommend following ADCS Two Tier PKI Hierarchy Deployment as it is a more straightforward approach and also touches the basics.


  • An AWS account where we will create S3 bucket.
  • A custom domain name
  • An offline Windows Server VM, which will be our Root CA

[NOTE: This is a test scenario. As such, CDP and AIA points may not match your requirements. Do use values that are appropriate as per your requirements.]

Preparing CDP & AIA Points

We will create S3 Bucket that will act as our CDP/AIA points for our PKI infrastructure. We will also associate it with our custom domain to redirect it to our AWS.

Creating Amazon S3 Bucket

  1. First, we need to log in to Amazon Web Services and navigate to Amazon S3.
  2. Then on the right side of the pane, click on Create Bucket.
    1. In bucket name include your custom domain name (
  3. Click on ACLs enabled.
  4. Uncheck the public access block and click on the acknowledge box.
  5. Make sure all remaining settings must be a default.
  6. Open the bucket > Under Permissions-> under bucket policy, click on Edit button -> click on Policy Generator
  7. Under select policy type, select S3 Bucket Policy. Under Add Statement -> under principal use * -> Under Actions select Get Object -> Under Amazon Resource Name (ARN) copy Bucket ARN URL from the bucket policy & add /*at the end of ARN URL in Amazon Resource Name (ARN). Click on Add Statement.
  8. Click on generate Policy.
  9. Copy the text under the policy. Click on Save Changes.
  10. Under Bucket -> right side of the pane, click on Upload. It might be a png/pdf/word doc for the testing.
  11. Open the testing file. Copy the object URL and paste it into chrome. Then you can see your file

Binding AWS with a custom domain

  1. Using or a similar hosting service, In DNS settings, navigate to DNS records. Now, we need to retrieve the hostname for our AWS account. Select Web alias -> Ensure that hostname must be our bucket name -> Under will redirect to paste the URL from the testing file & remove the file name from the URL. Click on Create Record.
  2. Now, we can fetch our file from our custom domain. Type http://<hostname>/<file name > in chrome.
    1. Be sure to remove s from https: to prevent issues.

Configuration of CDP & AIA Points on Root CA

Run the following commands on the command prompt of Root CA


certutil -setreg CA\CACertPublicationURLs “1: C:\Windows\system32\CertSrv\CertEnroll\%1_%3%4.crt\n2: ldap:///CN=%7,CN=AIA,CN=Public Key Services, CN=Services, %6%11\n2:http:////%1_%3%4.crt”


certutil -setreg CA\CRLPublicationURLs “1:C:\Windows\system32\CertSrv\CertEnroll\%3%8%9.crl\n10:ldap:///CN=%7%8,CN=%2,CN=CDP,CN=Public Key Services,CN=Services,%6%10\n2:http:////%3%8%9.crl”

Run the following commands to restart Active Directory Certificate Services and publish the CRL.

  • net stop certsvc && net start certsvc
  • certutil -crl

Publish the Root CA Certificate and CRL

  1. Ensure you are logged on to our Issuing CA as Enterprise Admin. Copy Root CA Certificate and Root CA CRL files from the C:\Windows\System32\CertSrv\CertEnroll directory to Issuing CA.
  2. On our Issuing CA, run the following commands at an administrative command prompt to publish Root CA Certificate and CRL in Active Directory.
    • certutil -f -dspublish <Root CA Certificate Path> RootCA
    • certutil -f -dspublish <Root CA CRL Path > <Root CA Name>
  3. To add Root CA Certificate and CRL in the Certificate store in our Issuing CA, run the following command from an administrative command prompt.
    • certutil -addstore -f root <Root CA Certificate Path>
    • certutil -addstore -f root <Root CA CRL Path>
  4. Ensure you are logged on to Issuing CA as Enterprise Admin. Right-click on Issuing CA, then click on Renew Certificate.
  5. Copy the REQ file from Issuing CA to Root CA.

Submit the Request and Issue Encon Issuing CA Certificate

  1. Ensure that you are logged on to Root CA as Admin. On Root CA, open an administrative command prompt. Then, submit the request using the following command. In the Certification Authority List dialog box, ensure that Root CA is selected and then click OK.
  2. Open the Certification Authority console. In the certsrv [Certification Authority (Local)], in the console tree, expand Root CA. Click Pending Requests. In the details pane, right-click the request you just submitted, click All Tasks, and click Issue.
  3. Return to the administrative command prompt to retrieve the issued certificate by running the following command   certreq -retrieve 5 <Issuing CA Certificate Path>.crt.”

Install the Encon Issuing CA Certificate on Issuing CA

  1. Ensure you have logged into Issuing CA as Enterprise Admin. Open the Certification Authority console. In the Certification Authority console tree, right-click Encon Issuing CA, and then click Install CA Certificate. Display All Files (*.*) and click the Issuing CA Certificate. Click Open. In the console tree, right-click Encon Issuing CA, click All Tasks, and then click Start Service.

Configuration of CDP & AIA Points on Issuing CA

Run the following commands on the command prompt of Root CA


certutil -setreg CA\CACertPublicationURLs “1: C:\Windows\system32\CertSrv\CertEnroll\%1_%3%4.crt\n2: ldap:///CN=%7,CN=AIA,CN=Public Key Services, CN=Services,%6%11\n2:http:////%1%3%4.crt”


certutil -setreg CA\CRLPublicationURLs “1:C:\Windows\system32\CertSrv\CertEnroll\%3%8%9.crl\n79:ldap:///CN=%7%8,CN=%2,CN=CDP,CN=Public Key Services,CN=Services,%6%10\n6:http:////%3%8%9.crl”

disable delta crls using this command.

Certutil -setreg CA\CRLDeltaPeriodUnits 0

Run the following commands to restart Active Directory Certificate Services and publish the CRL.

net stop certsvc && net start certsvc

certutil -crl

Upload Certificates and CRLs

  1. First, we need to log in to Amazon Web Services and navigate to EC2.
  2. On the pane’s right side, click Launch Instances. Ensure that name must be globally unique and must not contain spaces.
  3. Operating system should be Amazon Linux 2 AMI (HVM)-Kernal 5.10, and SSD Volume Type & Architecture must be 64-bit (x86).
  4. Instance type remains the same.
  5. Click on Create new key pair. Click on create key pair. Ensure that name must be globally unique and must not contain spaces.
  6. Make sure all remaining settings must default. On the right side of the pane, click on Launch Instances.
  7. Scroll down a bit, then click on view all instances.
  8. Now, navigate to IAM. On the right side of the pane, click on IAM.
  9. Under dashboard -> Users-> Add Users. The maximum length of a username will be up to 64 characters. Click on Next.
  10. Check the AWS management console box. Click on create an IAM user. Click on Next
  11. Click on Attach policies directly. Under Permission policies, in the search bar, type s3 and check the AmazonS3FullAccess box. Click on Next.
  12. Under Review & create, click on create the user.
  13. Under Retrieve password -> click on return to users list
  14. Select the user we have configured -> Under the user, select Security Credentials.
  15. Under Security credentials -> select Access keys -> click create an access key.
  16. Select Command Line Interface (CLI). Make sure to click on the acknowledge box. Click on Next.
  17. Maximum length of a set description tag will be up to 256 characters. Click on Create access key.
  18. Under Retrieve access keys -> click on the download .csv file.
  19. Install AWS Command Line Interface. Double click on AWS CLI set up. It will open the new wizard. In the initial screen, click Next to continue.
  20. Then, in the next window, accept the license agreement and click Next to proceed.
  21. Click on Next.
  22. On the next page, click on Install to begin the installation process.
  23. Once installation is completed, click on Finish.
  24. Open Command Prompt and run the following command to upload the CRLs & CRT :
    • aws –version
    • aws configure.

    Note: Write down the AWS Access Key, AWS Secret Access key & default region name from the downloaded .csv file. In Default output format, leave it none & press enter it.

  25. Run the following command to upload the CRLs & CRT:

    • aws s3 ls
    • aws s3 ls s3://
    Note: is our bucket name
  26. Now, it’s time to upload the certificate & CRLs from our system to AWS by running the following command:
    • aws s3 sync C:\aws-s3<Folder name > s3: \\ <bucket name >
  27.  Now check successfully if we have uploaded the certificate & CRLs.
    • aws s3 ls s3://
    Note: aws-s3 is our folder name & is our bucket name.
  28. Now run the pkiview. msc command on Cmd, and we successfully deployed our CDP/AIA points on AWS. Note: Files may need to be renamed for cdp and aia urls to work


This concludes our AD CS installation with AWS Services. It is easier to manage, but we also achieve high availability using AWS. This will help organizations create PKI that can be operational worldwide with minimal latency and high performance no matter where you are.

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Datasheet of Public Key Infrastructure

We have years of experience in consulting, designing, implementing & migrating PKI solutions for enterprises across the country.

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About the Author

Ambika Rastogi is a Consultant at Encryption Consulting, working with PKIs, HSMs, and working as a consultant with high-profile clients.

The executable file that is being delivered is digitally signed when a developer code-signs their programme. Consumers of the programme consider the intact signature as evidence that the code has not been modified between the time it was transmitted and the time it was installed on the consumer’s device. This signature functions as a kind of “wax seal.” Code signing entails applying digital signatures to distribute files using public key encryption

Need of Code Signing

Today, the internet is the primary means by which software is distributed, accessed, and used – almost every application on your computer was probably downloaded online. The widespread use of this media has also increased the risk of criminal activity.

For example, hackers and internet criminals may steal the executable file’s source code, add malware to it, and then make the software accessible for online discovery and distribution. Naturally, the malware would infect every user who downloaded and installed this file.

Code signing prevents this scenario from happening. Your operating system prevents the installation of any programme from moving forward without first verifying the presence of a code signing certificate when you download and install it. The user is informed if a certificate from a trusted vendor is missing at this point, they can decide whether or not to continue with the installation.

Working of Code Signing

  1. For Developer

    The creator must first create a special private key that may be used to encrypt the data. According to the theory behind public key cryptography, a private-public key pair is a collection of encryption techniques that can be used for encryption and decryption. After the key pair has been created, the public key is sent to a Certificate Authority (CA), a reputable organization that issues certificates.

    The CA confirms the developer’s legitimacy before attaching their public key to a digitally signed certificate, the developer’s evidence that they are the rightful owner of the key. The developer who requested the certificate receives the public key and certificate back from the CA.

    digitally signed certificate
  2. For Consumer

    Before a programme is installed, most consumer operating systems are set up to check for the presence of a code-signing certificate. When an installation is requested, the OS first verifies the certificate’s validity before decrypting the digest using a public key from the CA.

Changes made for Software Development

An item (document, file, script, library, etc.) utilized during the software development process is referred to as an intermediate artefact. These artefacts should be signed throughout the development cycle to prevent modification by anybody other than the authorized creator.

Developers can modify a file or script in their development environment, code sign it, and then keep the signed artefact in their repository for future use. These intermediate artefacts’ code signature aids in preventing hackers from introducing undesirable components throughout the building process. Many diverse components are used in contemporary software development approaches.

A significant breach could occur if malware infiltrates any of these components. It is essential that your software development teams take this into consideration. Your software development teams must code sign all the intermediate artefacts they employ to create software as a result.

Benefits of Code-Signing

  • Helps authenticate the identity of the developer, promoting trust on both sides of the transaction.
  • Provides proof that the software has not been tampered or meddled with and is being consumed in the way it was meant to be consumed.
  • Allows developers to distribute on more platforms – given that major platforms enforce code-signing as a mandatory step prior to publishing.

Best Practices of Code Signing

  1. Carry out code integrity checks

    Any code that developers check-in must be digitally signed using their signing key. To ensure that the final code published is unmodified, all developer signatures must be checked. The final build should be signed and released once all of these checks have been finished. A crucial step that helps ensure that the software update is free from tampering and secure for usage by your clients is verifying the integrity of the source code.

  2. Store keys in a highly secure location

    One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when it comes to key storage is keeping the keys on a hard drive, a developer’s personal computer, or built servers. This error can give attackers a broad window of opportunity to obtain your private keys and compromise several systems. Always keep your code signing keys very secure cryptographic areas, such as a FIPS 140-2 level 3 hardware security module, to prevent this danger (HSM). HSMs are exceedingly difficult to breach since they are tampering resistant. You can be guaranteed that no private keys are ever exported and that nobody else will ever have access to or use the code signing keys improperly.

  3. Rotate keys

    Sometimes, organizations tend to use the same key to sign releases across different product lines and businesses. This cannot be a good idea at all. All the releases you have signed with the code signing key run the risk of being hacked. Instead, it would be wise to alternate your keys on a regular basis. Additionally, utilize distinct and independent keys to sign various releases across DevOps teams.


A Code Signing certificate is essential for the user’s trust and to ensure that your source code is intact. Furthermore, it allows you to ensure that your application is not exposed to cyber-attacks. Increasing cyberattacks and a massive app market mean you must be ready on the security front.

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Datasheet of Code Signing Solution

Code signing is a process to confirm the authenticity and originality of digital information such as a piece of software code.

secure and flexible code signing solution

About the Author

Ambika Rastogi is a Consultant at Encryption Consulting, working with PKIs, HSMs, and working as a consultant with high-profile clients.

Data encryption is a method that transforms plaintext data into encrypted data known as ciphertext. Encryption can be used to decrypt the encrypted message. Both data at rest and data in use are the methods of encrypting files. An Encryption Strategy can be combined with authentication services to guarantee that only authorized users can access your organization’s data.

Data encryption is typical of two types

  1. Symmetric Encryption

    A single key is used for data encryption and decryption. All authorized users have access to the key, which enables data access.

  2. Asymmetric Encryption

    Data is encrypted and decrypted using two mathematical keys. The public key is used to encrypt data, and the private key is used to decrypt it. Private key is kept secret; on the other hand, the public key is shared with everyone.

States of the Data

There are three basic states of data within any organization. Data must be safeguarded throughout its lifecycle if it is to be secure.

  1. Data at Rest

    Data at rest encryption prevents data from being visible in case of unauthorized access. Organizations can encrypt sensitive files before they are moved or use full-disk encryption to encrypt the entire storage medium. Users need an encryption key to read encrypted data.

  2. Data in Motion

    It is used in big data analytics, as the processing of data can help an organization analyze and gain insight into trends as they occur.

  3. Data in Use

    Encryption plays a major role in protecting data in use or in motion. Data should always be encrypted when it’s traversing any external or internal networks.

For Example: Suppose Bob wants to send Alice a picture of a cheeseburger. Bob took the picture on his smartphone, which has stored it ever since – the cheeseburger photo is currently data at rest. Bob views the photo and attaches it to an email, which loads the photo into memory – it becomes data in use (specifically by his phone’s photo viewer and email applications). Bob taps “Send” and the email with the attached photo travels over the internet to Alice’s email service; it has become data in transit.

Data at Rest

Data at rest encryption is like locking away important papers in a safe. Only those with the key can access the stored papers; similarly, only parties with the encryption key can access data at rest. Encrypting data at rest protects it from negative outcomes like data breaches, unauthorized access, and physical theft. Without the key, the data is useless.

There are different types of technologies to protect the data, which are as follows

FDE (Full Disk Encryption)

For PCs, laptops, and portable electronic devices that can be lost or stolen, FDE is very helpful. The encrypted data will be inaccessible to the thief even if the device is taken. Because one key is used to encrypt the entire hard drive, FDE requires network administrators to enforce a strong password policy and provide an encryption key backup process in case employees forget their passwords or leave the company unexpectedly.

FDE works by automatically converting data on a hard drive into a format that can’t be understood by anyone who doesn’t have the key to undo the conversion. In particular, the hard drive is changed from plaintext that can be read to a ciphertext that can only be read after being converted back to plaintext using a key. Even if the hard drive is taken out and put in another system, the data won’t be accessible without the right authentication key.

FDE is often installed on computing devices at the time of manufacturing. For instance, BitLocker, which is present in some versions of Microsoft Windows, and FileVault, which is part of the macOS operating system, both enable FDE. The users of BitLocker and FileVault can retrieve forgotten passwords. FileVault backs up encryption keys to Apple iCloud, while BitLocker keeps recovery data on Active Directory.

On all Windows-based devices, Microsoft also provides Device Encryption, which secures data by encrypting the drive.

MDM (Mobile Device Management)

MDM technology manages data on mobile devices. They allow limiting access to some corporate applications, restricting access to the device, or encrypting data on mobile or tablet devices. They serve the same purpose as regular encryption if a device is lost, but when the data is transported outside of the device, it does not remain encrypted.

Data at rest still makes an attractive target for attackers, who may aim to encrypt the data and hold it for ransom, steal the data, or corrupt or wipe the data. No matter the method, the end goal is to access the data at rest and take malicious actions

  • Ransomware is a type of malware that, once it enters a system, encrypts data at rest, rendering it unusable. Ransomware attackers decrypt the data once the victim pays a fee.

  • A data breach can occur if data at rest is moved or leaked into an unsecured environment. Data breaches can be intentional, such as when an external attacker or malicious insider purposefully accesses the data to copy or leak it. They can also be accidental, such as when a server is left exposed to the public Internet, leaking the data stored within.

  • Physical theft can impact data at rest if someone steals the laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other devices on which the data at rest lives.

How to secure Data at Rest

  • Implementing encryption solutions is one of the finest and simplest ways for businesses to start shielding their data at rest from employee negligence. Organizations can encrypt employee hard drives using native data encryption tools provided by operating systems, such as Windows BitLocker and macOS’ FileVault. This guarantees that if someone stole the device, then he would not be able to access it without an encryption key, even when booting a computer using a USB.

  • We should also provide physical security to devices and storage media where data is stored. It should be difficult for an attacker to physically access a device or storage media and steal the data. For example, if a company keeps sensitive data in file servers, databases, or workstations, then the physical security of the building is essential.

Data in Motion

If data is not encrypted when being transported between devices, it could be intercepted, taken, or leaked. Data in motion is frequently encrypted to prevent interception because it is susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks, for instance. It should always be encrypted whenever data travels across any internal or external networks.

Data in motion can be encrypted using the following methods:

  1. TLS/SSL

    TLS / SSL are two of the most well-known cryptography applications for data in Motion. TLS offers a transport layer as an encrypted tube between message transfer agents or email servers. On the other hand, SSL certificates use public and private keys to encrypt private conversations sent over the internet.

  2. HTTPS

    The secure variant of HTTP is HTTPS. The protocol protects users from man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks and eavesdroppers. HTTPS is typically used to secure internet connections. Still, it has also established itself as a common encryption method for communications between web hosts and browsers and between hosts in the cloud and non-cloud contexts. HTTPS is an SSL certificate used for HTTP communication.

  3. IPsec

    Internet Protocol Security is used by the Internet Small Computer System Interface transport layer to protect data in Motion (IPsec). To prevent hackers from seeing the contents of the data being sent between two devices, IPsec can encrypt the data. Because IPsec employs cryptographic techniques like Triple Data Encryption Standard (Triple DES) and Advanced Encryption Standard. It is widely utilized as a transit encryption protocol for virtual private network tunnel . IPsec also uses SSL certificates. To keep data in Motion secure, encryption technologies can also be integrated with already-existing enterprise resource planning systems.

How to Secure Data in Motion

  1. Encrypt the data itself before the data travels over a network. For example, if we are transmitting data over the internet, we should first encrypt the data and then transmit it.

  2. If data is transmitted over a connection, we should use encryption to secure the connection first. For example, if data is transmitted between two hosts, we can use a VPN to establish a secure connection between the two hosts first and then transmit the data.

Data in Use

In environments where either the keys or the data are in use, alternate controls are typically offered since decryption keys and decrypted data must be fully unavailable to an attacker for encryption to provide security. When using cloud services, businesses should search for a distributed solution like an HSM to keep their keys safe and independent of the service provider.

How to secure Data in Use

  1. We should use encryption to encrypt the data wherever possible.
  2. We should take proper security measures to ensure that data in use is not being shared with unauthorized parties illegitimately or accidentally.


Asymmetric or Public Key Infrastructure encryption (PKI) is the most used method of email security  or managing key distribution and validation, PKI is frequently used, and consists of the following.

  1. An organization that issues and validates digital certificates or a certificate authority (CA). A certificate is a digital record that proves a public key’s ownership.
  2. Before issuing a digital certificate to a requestor, a registration authority (RA) serves as the certificate authority’s verifier.
  3. Information can be made secret or hidden by the Encryption process, which is based on a mathematical technique called a cipher. A code (or key) is needed to decrypt the information for the intended receivers for Encryption to perform. Data that isn’t encrypted is known as Plain text, while encrypted data is known as cipher text.

How does email encryption work

Public-key cryptography, also known as asymmetric Encryption, is the basis for email encryption. A set of keys-public and private-will be assigned to each email address. The public key encrypts messages as they are sent and is available to everyone. The email account’s owner is the only one with access to the private key. Only the associated private key can decrypt the messages once the public key has encrypted them into an unreadable jumble.

To protect them from being deliberately targeted by an attacker, we must encrypt all our emails, not just those that contain critical information. Email encryption offers protection from potentially harmful links or impersonation of identities as scams like phishing and spoofing grow more common. Data sent via email is secured with end-to-end email encryption so that only the sender and the receiver can access and read it.

Applications of Email Encryption

  1. Eavesdropping

    The radio communications between your PC and a wireless router are intercepted by an attacker using a computer. When using encrypted email, only those who hold the private key can decrypt the message.

  2. Spamming and Phishing

    Phishing emails offer a severe security risk, in contrast to spam emails you receive from advertising without asking for them. Phish are sent out to obtain your sensitive information, like banking information, login credentials, etc. They frequently impersonate reputable companies. A layer of security is added by storing passwords as hashes, implementing DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance), and encrypting sensitive data.

  3. Spoofing

    Email services, like postal services, do not need a precise return address to send a message. A cybercriminal can forge an email’s return address to make it appear as though it was sent from a reputable account, even though it wasn’t. By ensuring that every individual within your organization signs their emails to demonstrate trust, you may utilize email signing certificates to stop this kind of attack.

Building your strategy

Seven essential components might aid in the development of a successful end-to-end strategy

  1. SSL Decryption

    Encryption is a fantastic way to safeguard data, but it is also a fantastic way to conceal dangers. Different encryption techniques have different data handling capacities and key requirements for decryption. Most network security tools cannot decrypt and examine HTTPS (SSL) communication.

    As more services – like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Search, and DropBox, to name a few – utilize SSL encryption to help protect consumers, they unintentionally make it more difficult for businesses to ensure that harmful code isn’t leaking into network traffic. Cyber attackers are taking advantage of this weakness; thus, it’s crucial to consider SSL decryption technology when selecting the appropriate encryption solutions for your business to secure visibility into crucial data at points of entry and outflow.

    Tools that are used to decrypt the SSL Certificates are:

    • Giga SMART SSL TLS Decryption
    • Fidelis Decryption
    • A10 Networks Thunder SSLi.
  2. Key Management

    Protect your keys. No matter the security measures, the company is vulnerable to attack if keys and certificates are not securely safeguarded. Many firms need a clearer understanding of their inventory and have thousands of keys and certificates.

    They need to know the systems to which keys and certificates grant access, how they are utilized, or who is in charge. Organizations must be aware of the keys and certificates used in the network, who has access to them, and how and when they are utilized. By centrally managing keys and certificates, it is possible to acquire a comprehensive overview of the organization’s inventory as the initial step in acquiring this data. You’ll be able to detect unusual activities, like rogue self-signed certificates.

    • Encryption Key Lifecycle Management

      While managing the lifecycle of encryption keys can be difficult for organizations with many keys, it is necessary to verify the integrity of the keys and, consequently, the integrity of the data itself. From the moment they are created through their entire lifecycle of initiation, distribution, activation, deactivation, and termination, keys must be protected using a trustworthy key management solution.

    • Heterogeneous Key Management

      Unified access to all the encryption keys and a 360-degree “single pane of glass” investigate the overall strategy made possible by a centralized key management platform. It is possible to gain a detailed picture of how the keys are being used and, more crucially, whether they are being accessed improperly by requiring that all keys be controlled from the same location and in the same fashion.

      Without a comprehensive solution for heterogeneous key management, the company would constantly be searching for rogue keys and battling to guarantee that encrypted data is reliable and can be decrypted when needed.

  3. Certificate Management

    To function securely, every system that is connected to the internet or another system needs at least one digital certificate. That said, maintaining PKI for a company or a business unit typically requires an administrator to manage hundreds or even thousands of certificates. Each individual certificate is linked to several factors, each of which is unique, including:

    • Varying expiration dates (and hence, renewal necessities)
    • Issued by multiple certificate authorities.
    • Consisting of unique system vulnerabilities that need to be individually monitored and addressed.

    To maintain their effectiveness, these certificates must also be continually checked. To prevent the system from being filled with undesirable certificates, administrators must have control over who can request and approve certificates. All these processes are impossible to handle on manual systems like spreadsheets, prompting the need for a specialized certificate management process.

  4. Communication with HSMs

    Hardware Security Modules (HSMs) are hardened, tamper-resistant hardware devices that strengthen encryption practices by generating keys, encrypting and decrypting data, and creating and verifying digital signatures. Some hardware security modules (HSMs) are certified at various FIPS 140-2 Levels. The access control mechanisms and procedures for connecting with the HSM must be extremely secure because it houses the most sensitive data (crypto keys).

    HSM is used for critical infrastructure as it’s very expensive and costly to maintain, and access shouldn’t be given to everyone. For this reason, PKCS #11 is the industry’s most well-known, widely used, and recognized standard. The PKCS #11 standard, also known as the “PKCS #11 Cryptographic Token Interface Base Specification,” was created by RSA Labs in 1994. The most recent version, version 2.40, was created in collaboration with OASIS

    One of the more narrowly focused technical standards that outlines specific specifications for common public-key cryptography operations and their platform-independent programming interfaces is PKCS #11. It defines a cryptographic token API agnostic of the platform and works with HSMs and smart cards. Support for the PKCS #11 standard is implemented by all businesses that sell HSMs.

    For Microsoft Windows-based deployment environments, the API is accessible as a DLL file; for Linux-based deployment environments, it is available as SO files. The most popular symmetric and asymmetric tokens and keys (DES/Triple DES, AES, RSA, DSA, etc. keys and X.509 digital certificates), as well as the hashing and encryption methods needed to create, modify, and discard these crypto tokens, are all implemented in the API.

  5. Collaboration

    The development of an encryption scheme requires coordination. The best way to approach it is as a major task that involves management, IT, and operations. Identify the rules, legislation, policies, and outside factors that will affect decisions about purchasing and implementing new technology by first gathering essential data from stakeholders. The next step is identifying high-risk locations, including laptops, portable electronics, wireless networks, and data backups. Furthermore an encryption strategy can be developed to mitigate the identified gaps.


There are several software solutions that can help & protect the data, even though they have different vulnerabilities and attack routes. Data in motion and at rest are both protected by firewalls, antivirus software, DLP tools, and with encryption strategies. Data exists in three states: data at rest, data in use, and data in motion, depending on its movements. Data that is not transmitted from one device to another or from one network to another is referred to as data at rest. Local data on computer hard drives, archived data in databases, file systems, and storage infrastructure are all included.

Data that is currently being updated, processed, erased, accessed, or read by a system that is kept in IT infrastructures like RAM, databases, or CPUs is referred to as data that is in use. This kind of data is actively being stored, not passively. On the other hand, Data is transferred from one location to another, whether between computers, or virtual machines, from an endpoint to cloud storage or across a private or public network. Data in motion becomes data at rest once it gets to its destination

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Datasheet of Public Key Infrastructure

We have years of experience in consulting, designing, implementing & migrating PKI solutions for enterprises across the country.

Implementing & migrating PKI solutions for enterprises

About the Author

Ambika Rastogi is a Consultant at Encryption Consulting, working with PKIs, HSMs, and working as a consultant with high-profile clients.

Currently, PKI is used by enterprises to handle security through encryption. The most popular type of encryption currently in use entails two keys: a public key, which anybody may use to encrypt messages, and a private key, sometimes known as a secret key, which should only be accessible to one person. Apps, devices, and people can all use these keys. 

In the 1990s, PKI security first appeared to help control encryption keys through the issue and administration of digital certificates. The certificates are the equivalent of a digital license or passport. To preserve security, these PKI certificates confirm the owner of a private key and the validity of that relationship moving forward.

Messages are encrypted and decrypted using highly advanced mathematical calculations known as cryptographic algorithms. They serve as the foundation for PKI authentication. By today’s standards, symmetric encryption is a simple cryptographic technique, yet it was formerly thought to be cutting-edge. In fact, during World War II, the German army utilized it to relay secret messages. The Imitation Game, a film, does a decent job of describing the operation of symmetric encryption and its significance throughout the conflict.

Why We need PKI

Verifying a certificate chain entails confirming that a specific certificate chain is reliable, authentic, and correctly signed. The following process verifies a certificate chain beginning with the certificate submitted for authenticity.

Typically, the chain of certificates going up to the Root CA is submitted with the certificate of a client whose validity is being evaluated. Using the issuer’s public key, the verifier examines the certificate. The issuer’s certificate follows the client’s certificate in the chain, where the issuer’s public key is located. If the higher CA, who signed the issuer’s certificate, is trusted by the verifier, the verification procedure is now considered successful.

How Does PKI Work

Keys and certificates are two technologies that are implemented in PKI.

  • A key is a substantial number used for encryption.
  • The key formula is used to encrypt every component of a message. Someone who possesses this key will be able to decrypt what appears to be a meaningless message. For Example, A will become B, for instance, if you want to construct a message where the one replaces each letter after it. After C comes D, etc.
  • PKI uses two keys: a private key and a public key.
  • Once you receive the message, you decode it using a private key. The connections between the keys are made via a challenging mathematical equation. Although the private and public keys are linked, this difficult calculation makes the connection possible. Because of this, it is very challenging to determine the private key using information from the public key.

Symmetric Encryption

The term “symmetric encryption” refers to a method of message encryption and decryption that uses the same key. A message entered in plain text with symmetric encryption is encrypted after going through a series of mathematical permutations. The same plain text letter sometimes appears different in the encrypted message, making it challenging to decrypt. For instance, the phrase “HHH” would not be encrypted to the same three characters. The fact that the same key must be used to encrypt and decode the message carries significant risk, even though decrypting messages without the key is extremely challenging. That’s because the system for sending secure messages breaks if the channel used to distribute the key is compromised.

Here are a few of the best encryption algorithms that you may use to protect sensitive data.

  • Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)

    The symmetric encryption algorithm Advanced Encryption Standard encodes data blocks of 128 bits at a time. These data blocks are encrypted using keys with lengths of 128, 192, and 256 bits. Data encryption takes 14 rounds for a 256-bit key, 12 rounds for a 192-bit key, and ten rounds for a 128-bit key. Each cycle includes several stages for substitution, transposition, plaintext mixing, and other operations.

  • Triple Data Encryption Standard (DES)

    The Data Encryption Standard (DES) approach encrypts data blocks with a 56-bit key using a symmetric encryption technique called Triple DES. Each data block is encrypted using the DES cipher method three times in Triple DES. ATM PINs and UNIX passwords can both be encrypted using Triple DES. Well-known programs like Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Office also use triple DES.

Asymmetric Encryption

The exchange issue that hampered symmetric encryption is resolved by asymmetric encryption, also known as asymmetrical cryptography. It accomplishes this by generating two unique cryptographic keys -a private key and a public key – hence the name “asymmetric encryption.” A message is encrypted using mathematical permutations in asymmetric encryption. It must be decrypted using a private key that the receiver should only know, and it must be encrypted using a public key that can be distributed to anyone.

For Example: Using Bob’s public key, Alice creates encrypted ciphertext that only Bob’s private key can decrypt to send Bob a private message. If Bob ensures that no one else has access to his private key, Alice can confidently transmit the message that nobody else will be able to read it, not even an eavesdropper. Another action that is more difficult to do with symmetric encryption is the use of digital signatures, which function as follows: 

Bob can use his private key to send Alice a message that includes an encrypted signature. When Alice receives the message, she can confirm two things using Bob’s public key. The message was sent by Bob or someone using Bob’s private key. Because if the communication is changed even when in transit, the verification will not be successful.

In both instances, Alice has yet to produce a key on her own. Alice can communicate with Bob using encryption and verify documents that Bob has signed using only a public key exchange. Importantly, these activities only work in one direction. Alice would have to create her private key and share the accompanying public key to undo the activities, so Bob could send private messages to Alice and confirm her signature.

This procedure creates two 1024-bit long prime numbers and multiplies them together. The two prime numbers used to construct the answer are the private key, while the answer is the public key.

This method works because, when two prime integers of that size are involved, it is very difficult to reverse the computation, making it relatively simple to compute the public key from the private key but very impossible to compute the private key from the public key.

The fact that Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) uses a pair of keys to delivering the underlying security service is its most distinctive feature. The private key and public key make up the key pair.

Since the public keys are in the public domain, misuse is likely. Thus, reliable infrastructure must be created to manage these keys.

Algorithm used to protect the Sensitive information are as follows:

Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA)

An asymmetric encryption scheme called Rivest-Shamir-Adleman is based on the factorization of the product of two enormous prime integers. Only someone aware of these numbers can effectively decipher the message. Data transmission between two communication locations is frequently secured using RSA. However, it becomes less effective when encrypting vast amounts of data. Nevertheless, because of its unique mathematical characteristics and complexity, this encryption technology is particularly trustworthy in delivering sensitive data.

PKI certificates

PKI provides public key assurance. It offers public key distribution and key identification. The following components form the structure of PKI.

Digital Certificate

People use ID cards like a passport or driver’s license to establish their identification. With one exception, a digital certificate performs the same fundamental function in the electronic environment.

Digital Certificates can be granted to computers, software programs, or anything else that must establish its identity in the electronic world in addition to individuals. The ITU standard X.509, which outlines a common certificate format for public key certificates and certification validation, is the foundation for digital certificates. As a result, X.509 certificates are another name for digital certificates. The Certification Authority stores the user client’s public key in digital certificates (CA)

Certifying Authority (CA)

The CA provides a client with a certificate and helps other users to validate the certificate. The CA is responsible for accurately verifying the client’s identity requesting a certificate, checking that the certificate’s contents are accurate, and digitally signing it.

Key Functions of CA

The key functions of a CA are as follows –

  • Generating key pairs

    The client and the CA can work together or independently to create a key pair.

  • Issuing digital certificates

    The CA could be compared to the PKI version of a passport office; after receiving the credentials needed to verify the client’s identity, the CA issues the certificate. The CA then signs the certificate to prevent alterations to the information it contains.

  • Publishing Certificates

    The CA must publish certificates so users can find them. There are two ways of achieving this. One is to publish certificates in the equivalent of an electronic telephone directory. The other is to send your certificate to those you think might need it by one means or another.

  • Verifying Certificates

    To facilitate the verification of his signature on clients’ digital certificates, the CA makes its public key available in the environment.

  • Revocation of Certificates

    When the user compromises their private key or the CA loses trust in the client, the certificate may be revoked. Following revocation, CA keeps a list of every certificate that has been revoked and is accessible to the environment.

How the Certificate Creation Process Works

Asymmetric encryption is frequently used during the certificate creation process, which operates as follows:

  • A private key is generated, and the associated public key is calculated.
  • The CA requests and verifies any personal information about the owner of the private key.
  • The owner of the private key signs the Certificate Signing Request (CSR) to attest to their ownership of the public key. The issuing CA then verifies the request and signs the certificate using the CA’s private key.

Components of PKI Ecosystem

The Certificate Authority is a business that creates reliable certificates recognized by a wide range of software applications, most notable browsers like Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, and the Xbox 360.

  • The Registration Authority

    usually, this entity does the validation. After completing all the necessary preparation, it will send the request to the CA to issue the certificate. The RA might be a business, an application, or a part.

  • Relying Party

    Is the individual at the website who is using the certificate. The subscriber is the website owner who is purchasing the certificate.

The architecture of PKI

Two-Tier Architecture

Most businesses would discover that a two-tier architecture is a practical design. The root CA is on the first tier, which should remain offline .Since we separate the roles of the Root CA and Issuing CA, security is improved. Under it, Subordinate Issuing CA should be functioning.

  • A two-tier architecture also improves flexibility and scalability, improving fault tolerance. Being offline helps Root CA better safeguard its private keys and reduces the likelihood that they will be compromised. Because the roles are distinct, we can build numerous issuing CAs and put them behind a load balancer.

Three–Tier Architecture

A three-tier architecture is similar to a two-tier system in that it has an offline root CA at the top and an online issuing CA at the bottom. Still, the offline root CA is now held by an intermediary layer. The policy CA, which sets the requirements that must be fulfilled before a certificate is given, may be the intermediate CA.

  • Any authenticated user can obtain a certificate, albeit certificate acceptance can necessitate the user’s physical presence.
  • Three-tier PKI does boost security, scalability, and flexibility but comes at an additional expense and manageability.
  • However, if an issuing CA faces compromise or something similar, the second level can revoke the certificates while keeping the other branches active.

What Are Some Typical Challenges

When hackers attempt to employ MITM attacks to intercept, modify, or steal information, this is one of the key issues PKI tries to solve. The “person” trying to get in the way doesn’t have the private key. Thus, he can’t decrypt the message. Their best effort is, as a result, intercepted. 

  • A large amount of processing power is needed to decipher 2048-bit encryption. PKI is a strong defense against these kinds of online attacks as a result.
  • PKI also addresses the issue of managing certificates. It achieves this by confirming the truth of each one through validation. False certificates lost or stolen can also be removed using PKI. In addition, certificates may be revoked.

Components of PKI Ecosystem

The Certificate Authority is a business that creates reliable certificates recognized by a wide range of software applications, most notable browsers like Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, and the Xbox 360.

  • The Registration Authority

    usually, this entity does the validation. After completing all the necessary preparation, it will send the request to the CA to issue the certificate. The RA might be a business, an application, or a part.

  • Relying Party

    is the individual at the website who is using the certificate. The subscriber is the website owner who is purchasing the certificate.

Hierarchy of CA

single trustworthy CA from whom all users receive their certificates is realistically impractical, given the size of the networks and the demands of global communications. Second, having only one CA available could be problematic if that CA were to get hacked. The hierarchical certification architecture is valuable in this situation because it permits the usage of public key certificates in settings where two communicating parties do not share a trust relationship with a common CA.

The root CA is the highest level of the CA hierarchy, and its certificate was self-signed. The root CA signs the CA certificates for the CAs that are directly subordinate to it (for example, CA1 and CA2).

The higher-level subordinate CAs sign the CA certificates for the CAs that are subordinate to them in the hierarchy (for example, CA5 and CA6). Hierarchies of certificate authorities (CAs) are reflected in certificate chains. A certificate chain shows the sequence of certificates that led from a hierarchy branch to its root.

Verifying a certificate chain involves ensuring that a particular certificate chain is legitimate, properly signed, and reliable. The verifier takes the certificate using the issuer’s public key. The issuer’s certificate, which is in the chain next to the client’s certificate, contains the issuer’s public key. 


Only a complete public key infrastructure can achieve the goal of creating and maintaining a trustworthy environment for systems management while also providing a workable, transparent, and automatic foundation. Significant gains can be made from an interest in PKI due to decreased costs, streamlined corporate processes, and enhanced customer service. Focusing on particular business applications will enable your public key infrastructure to help you achieve the desired financial success. Virtual private networks, access control, e-commerce, web-based security, desktop security, and secure email can all be provided via your current network.

Free Downloads

Datasheet of Public Key Infrastructure

We have years of experience in consulting, designing, implementing & migrating PKI solutions for enterprises across the country.

Implementing & migrating PKI solutions for enterprises

About the Author

Ambika Rastogi is a Consultant at Encryption Consulting, working with PKIs, HSMs, and working as a consultant with high-profile clients.

Read time: 5 minutes

Windows 2012 R2 is reaching the end of its lifecycle, which means that Microsoft will no longer provide technical support or security updates for the operating system. This can create significant security and compliance risks for organizations using the OS. Organizations must plan and implement a migration to a supported operating system to ensure their systems’ continued security and reliability.

Key Issues

When an operating system reaches its end of life, the manufacturer will no longer provide support, updates, or security patches. This can have a number of implications for users of the system, including:

  • Security risks

    Without regular security updates, your system may become vulnerable to exploits, malware, and other security threats. This can put your personal information and data at risk, as well as the security of your network and connected devices.

  • Compatibility issues

    As software and hardware evolve, older operating systems may be unable to keep up. This can lead to compatibility issues with newer programs and devices, making it difficult or impossible to use them on your system.

  • Lack of support

    When an operating system reaches the end of life, the manufacturer will no longer provide support for it. This means you won’t be able to get help with technical issues or bugs, and you may have to figure out solutions on your own.

  • Loss of features

    Operating systems are updated with new features and improvements over time. When an operating system reaches the end of life, it will no longer receive these updates, making it feel outdated and limited compared to newer systems.

Security risks

When an operating system reaches its end of life, it can leave the system vulnerable to several security risks, including:

  • Exploits

    Hackers and cyber criminals may discover vulnerabilities in the operating system and develop exploits to take advantage of them. These vulnerabilities may remain unpatched and open to exploitation without regular security updates.

  • Malware

    Malicious software, such as viruses, worms, and ransomware, can exploit vulnerabilities in the operating system to infect and damage your system. Without regular security updates, your system may be more susceptible to these threats.

  • Phishing and other social engineering attacks

    These attacks rely on tricking users into giving away sensitive information, such as passwords or financial data. Without regular security updates, your system may be more susceptible to these types of attacks, as newer forms of social engineering may be able to bypass older security measures.

  • Data breaches

    If your system is hacked or infected with malware, sensitive information and data stored on the system may be stolen or compromised. This can include personal information, financial data, and confidential business information.

Running PKI on Windows 2012 R2

It’s generally not recommended to run PKI on an operating system that will reach the end of life. This is because an operating system that’s reaching the end of life will no longer receive support, updates, or security patches from the manufacturer. This can leave your PKI system and the sensitive information and data it protects vulnerable to security risks and other potential issues.

Without regular security updates, your system may become vulnerable to exploits, malware, and other security threats. This can put your PKI system and the sensitive information and data it protects at risk. Additionally, compatibility issues may arise as software and hardware evolve, making it difficult or impossible to use newer programs and devices on your system.

Migrating to a newer Operating System

To migrate your Issuing CA from one to another, you can refer to: How to migrate from old ca to a new issuing ca

If your organization needs assistance in migrating your PKI infrastructure to a newer operating system, feel free to reach out to us at


Overall, it’s generally better to avoid running PKI on an operating system that will reach the end of life. Instead, upgrading to a newer, supported operating system is recommended to ensure that you have the latest security updates and features and to avoid potential security risks and compatibility issues. This will help protect your PKI system and the sensitive information and data it protects.

Free Downloads

Datasheet of Public Key Infrastructure

We have years of experience in consulting, designing, implementing & migrating PKI solutions for enterprises across the country.

Implementing & migrating PKI solutions for enterprises

About the Author

Ambika Rastogi is a Consultant at Encryption Consulting, working with PKIs, HSMs, and working as a consultant with high-profile clients.

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