How to Manage Your Digital Certificates Efficiently

It is no surprise that many companies have lost millions of users based on hacks and data breaches. However, one thing was common in each of these companies, which is a fallible cryptographic control system. As a security leader, you must bring out your ‘A’ game and be on the top of guarding your cybersecurity with the right tactics.

That is when digital certificates come into the picture and protect access to all of your applications and devices. Any overhaul in the management systems can put a full stop to your business and can also cut a sorry picture in front of your target customers. Well. You save you all that melodrama, here are six such bullet-tested points to get you some thinking and protect your business before it is too late. Here is what we will be delving into today:

  1. Refrain from the inefficient Cryptographic Practices
  2. Imbibe Visibility into your Certificate Inventory
  3. Segregate your Digital Certificate Vendors
  4. Configure safe SSL Protocols when establishing Servers 
  5. Eradicate stagnant and unused Certificates, right away!
  6. Yes to Automatic Certificate Lifecycle Management 

  Refrain from the inefficient Cryptographic Practices 

It is the encryption techniques that ascertain whether the security of your infrastructure will remain safeguarded or not. In such cases, it is of high pertinence that you have the backup of a sound knowledge that tells you which to pick from the sea of options. First, DSA, RSA, SHA1, and SHA2 are the most popular in the market today and are most commonly used. On similar tracks, steer away from the techniques that have had a proven record of fallen vulnerability. Some of the known ones include MD5, RC4, and lesser than 1024-bit RSA modulus.

Here, you must also note that the more is the bit-length, the higher the computing power it will demand. Hence, choose wisely. Additionally, you may offer limited access to your private keys and revolve it more often within the organization. One more thing that you should consider is that while you are getting self-signed digital certificates, restrict the validity of these certificates to a maximum of 1.5 years. The lesser the time is, the fewer are the chances of getting exploited by the hackers.

Imbibe Visibility into your Certificate Inventory 

What is paramount for an effective certificate management system is transparent visibility. Ransack your infrastructure (Well, not literally) and search for your certificates regularly. Ensure that all the digital certificates are discovered on a timely basis are well-maintained. See that the inventory must have all the necessary bits, such as the type of certificate, expiry dates, and deployment status. Every once a while, make it a point to monitor each of these certificates’ validity – be it root, intermediate or end-user.

Also, note that the unfortunate occurrence of any one SSL Certificate’s expiry can put the others in the bunch at jeopardy. Hence, it is more than crucial to carefully track each of these certificates’ expiry dates and try renewing them at a pace of 30 or 60 days at max. Once you do that, recheck that the expired certificate has been eliminated from the system. Do this almost diligently. This is regarded as one of the most prone factors for getting a certificate affected and can impact your company in many negative ways.

Segregate your Digital Certificate Vendors 

It accounts to be an insensible marketing policy to club all your certificate vendors under one umbrella. In no way, is it safe and wise to trust just one vendor for your business. If the vendor compromises with your trust, you can take no reverse turns from the mess. And as they say, ‘Prevention is better than Cure’, you must take the precautionary steps before that happens. Go for a certificate vendor that gels up with the nature of your business and budget too. Also, try to get a unique certificate for every server that you use and refrain from sharing a copy certificate amongst them. This, again, can work against the profits of your business.

Even if one of your subdomains gets inflicted with compromising stuff, it takes down the rest of the subdomains along with it. So, all of the measures that you had taken up till now simmers into nothingness if that happens. Moreover, Tom, Dick, and Harry can make a subdomain using your name and get protection from that. This can magnify risks of all forms and is said to be a big no-no for your company’s health. 

Configure safe SSL Protocols when establishing Servers 

SSL Certificates are a magical bliss for the online security industry. It is even hard to imagine how security can be maintained bereft of the presence of an SSL Certificate. As you know, the URL having HTTPS over HTTP is given by the SSL or TLS protocol. Some of the most commonly used protocols include TLS v1.0, TLS v1.1, and TLS v1.2. If you have one of those SSL v3.0 versions installed, it is advised to immediately take that off. Anything that provides weak encryption or protocol can become more vulnerable to get attacked quickly. 

Did you know that when the client browsers see a TLS negotiation’s unavailability to your server, it will automatically merge with the SSL v3.0? And that is why you must support your system with the latest protocols, as soon as possible. Further, just in case, your server demands to renegotiate from an SSL connection, it is always wiser to disable that with immediate effects and save yourself a load of fortune of the data breach and money loss. 

Eradicate stagnant and unused Certificates, right away!

So, what is meant by an unused certificate, anyway? They are the ones bought to add an extra layer of security to your system but have never been deployed. Similarly, unknown certificates are the ones that were never really documented and can easily fall into the rogue category. As you are going to build or check your inventory on a timely basis, ensure that you remove both the unused and the unknown type of certificates from the system, without any further ado. Even the slightest delay in eradicating them can call for massive loss to your inventory and question the rest of the files’ security. 

When your developers wish to procure the certificates for some internal testing purposes, limit the free SSL use to lessen the likelihood of disseminating these unknown or unused certificates. To save yourself from all the hurdles, ensure that you do a timely checkup of your certificates and let no file stay unnoticed. It is very much possible that the presence of a single vile certificate can contaminate the rest of your inventory in no time. 

Yes to Automatic Certificate Lifecycle Management 

It is a given that the digital certificates will increase as and when the new business’s use cases double up. On that note, it can become a daunting task to manually feed in data and manage these certificates on the go. Additionally, putting the data manually can lead to more mistakes and can augment the overhead too. That is why automating processes is what the 21st century has taught us. When done right, it can leverage more power, lessen the workload and reduce the number of mistakes that happen daily. 

The thing with an automated certificate management utility is that it can seamlessly discover, renew, issue, and install certificates without any human intervention. Moreover, you will get a quick notification when a certificate expires any time soon. And, these tools are validated to support multiple certificate authorities.

Not only that, they give you the power to respond agilely to any of the more recent vulnerabilities and perform the migrating activities too. To put it in simple words, by investing in an automatic certificate lifecycle management tool, you can bid goodbye to the hassles that used to take place earlier and reduce the overall complexities of your digital certificate infrastructure.

That’s a Wrap 

Better yet, get yourself one of those cheap code sign certificates, and they will take care of the rest. So, what they do is they use a digital signature to validate the integrity of your system to that of the industry-standard encryption. While this will secure your software right, it will also tell you when the software is safe to be downloaded and not altered. Although you might not get a free code sign certificate just yet, you can get them in a genuine, inexpensive offer that will not burn your pocket in any way.

Hope the above mentioned six tips would have helped throw some light on the topic and enlighten you with some of the major dos and don’ts. Above all, ensure safety and check your systems periodically before it is too late. So, why is the wait? Foolproof your digital certificate management today itself.

Cloud Industry Forum presents TWF! Jay Patel


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