Overview of CLM

Certificates typically have a 4-phase lifecycle – Discovery, Enrollment, Provisioning, and End-of-life. To make your PKI mature and reliable, you must have more control over all the phases.

The key aspects of these 4 phases are:

Discovery

  • Extract from known sources
  • Network scans
  • Monitoring

Enrollment

  • Procedures to request/ obtain new certificates

Provisioning

  • Processes and procedures for distribution/ installation of certificates
  • Automation

End of life

  • Processes for revocation/ renewal of certificates

Why you need a certificate management system?

A certificate management system becomes necessary when the organization faces any of the following scenarios:

Manual labor reaches a threshold

One full-time-employee (FTE) can maintain about 40 certificates a week, or 2000 per year, assuming the same employee can do it all. Certificates are valid for one year, and we do not consider interactions between teams or complex testing scenarios.

Your certificate lifecycle processes are missing. It means:

  • The certificate ownership details are not captured, or
  • Request and Renewal processes of certificates are not defined.

Reporting and monitoring are required for the following:

  • If you need network scanning to detect unauthorized users of a certificate
  • Monitor the site to detect tampering/ active MITM Meet compliance for certificate inventory reports

Challenges in a certificate management system

As organizations work towards enhancing the security of their data, they are often confronted with challenges around the management of certificates. Following are the challenges which every organization faces in creating and maintaining the certificate lifecycle management.

Core Work

  • Establishing requirement
  • Architecture design
  • Importing existing certificates
  • Network discovery scan
  • Configuring policies and reports
  • Onboarding applications
  • Documentation on operations
  • Training

Additional Work

  • Integration with other systems (e.g., ticketing tools, IDM, etc.)
  • Automation
  • Custom reporting

Challenges

  • Network scans usually return a lot of data. Guidelines are needed to determine what is important.
  • It is difficult to get certificate ownership, if the organization does not have application/ data owners already defined.

Key challenges of an organization

While dealing with certificate management, most organizations face challenges like manual-labour crossing the threshold, missing lifecycle processes, a need for monitoring/ reporting, automation of processes, or lack of operational documentation and training.

Solving your problems and challenges

Encryption Consulting offers a broad range of services in the Certificate Management space, from strategy to implementation and managed services. Encryption consulting can help solving the problems and challenges in certificate lifecycle management, through the followings:

  • Establishing requirement, and designing the architecture
  • Performing network discovery scan
  • Importing existing certificates
  • Configuring policies and reports
  • Onboarding a set of pilot applications
  • Preparing documentation for operations and training
  • Developing a plan for addressing gaps
  • Developing a guide for process/ operations and certified training

Professional Services Offered

  • Implementing Certificate life cycle solution for certificate management
  • Implementing automation for certificate lifecycle on various platforms (e.g. F5, tomcat, IIS)
  • Integrating PKI with other security services (typically to enable cert-based authentication on VPN, Wi-Fi, NAC)

Necessity for the Certificate Lifecycle Management

All digital certificates have a limited lifespan and are no longer recognized as valid upon expiration. Certificates needs to be replaced at the end of their life to avoid service disruption and decreased security. If a certificate fails, the vulnerability can be exploited by malicious man-in-the-middle attacks, allowing hackers to gain access to sensitive information. This will not only influence sales, day-to-day business, and brand reputation – but it will also result in a lack of confidence and trust from your customers. However, there are other scenarios where the certificate needs to be replaced/renewed before the expiration date, for example: SHA-1 end of life migration, change in company policy, etc.).

The certificates need to be constantly monitored to ensure that they are effective. The administrators should have controls over approval process of creating/requesting any certificate, just to ensure that no unwanted certificates are added to the system.

To avoid any security and management gaps such as certificates that get lost in the system, get expired, and cause revenue loss and reputation, organizations must design and implement proper certificate Lifecycle Management approaches/strategies.

Trusted By

See how Encryption Consulting assisted a Healthcare and Life Science Company by reviewing their current practices.

Suggested Resources

Blog

Certificate Lifecycle Management – Best Practices

Enterprises have typically employed x.509 certificates across their entire IT infrastructure to protect information belonging to them

Report

Encryption Consulting PKI & IoT Trends Survey

A study on global usage trends on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and Internet of Things (IoT) along with their application possibilities.

Training

PKI Training

PKI course is recommended for anyone using or managing certificates, designing or deploying a PKI enterprise solution, or evaluating & selecting a commercial PKI Technology Solution

Let's talk