Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) has been gaining immense popularity in recent years as it allows users to securely access services and data without exposing their credentials or private information. With the increase in digital adoption, organizations are also getting more concerned about the security of their digital assets.
Users can’t be trusted with their passwords alone. They need some digital identity they can trust to make authenticated transactions using their accounts on websites and apps. In this blog post, you will learn everything from what PKI is, why you should implement it, how to implement it, and the potential challenges of implementing PKICT as a service solution.
What is a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) Certificate?
A PKI certificate, also known as a digital certificate, is a data package that verifies the server’s identity linked to the public key. This package contains various digital files, papers, and cryptographic data necessary to verify the identification of an entity. A PKI certificate is analogous to a digital passport. Users must be able to authenticate themselves and the recipient to communicate information via PKI.
PKI as a service is analogous to an airport in that it is the infrastructure that enables persons to travel from one location to another safely. In PKI, the traveler is the data or message intended for transmission, and the two parties are the arrival and departure terminals. Before data can board the aircraft, it must clear customs.
Before the exchange, servers and clients validate each other’s passports or digital certificates as the PKI equivalent of customs. Despite this, it is still possible for users to modify the digital certificate. To prevent the new potential for fraud and corruption, PKIs frequently need further verification. To guarantee their authenticity, digital certificates, like passports, must be issued by respectable authorities.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols are one of the most popular uses of the PKI architecture. SSL and its successor, Transport Layer Security (TLS), aid in establishing authorized and encrypted connections between PKI’s networked machines.
Obtaining a Digital certificate
The simplest approach to receive a digital certificate is to have one created and signed by a publicly trusted CA that issues, distributes, and revokes digital certificates to various entities depending on country- or business-specific regulations. If a company believes it requires a higher level of security and has the infrastructure to handle it, it can employ its own in-house CA system.
Anyone can distribute a digital certificate similar to a public key after it has been issued. Since a digital certificate contains no private information, it may be independently verified. Most client software, like web browsers, automatically trust digital certificates and do not require extra validation.
Increasingly, businesses are migrating their infrastructure, including PKI, to the cloud. Cost savings and substantial scalability make this an intriguing possibility. With PKI, however, it is crucial to protect the root offline, administer the Root CA, and issue CAs independently online for certificate requests and issuance.
In the cloud, PKI provides a highly secure and scalable managed PKI with end-to-end certificate lifecycle management and automation. It enables enterprises to decouple key management from on-premise infrastructure without sacrificing root security. By building this infrastructure in the cloud, enterprises may access the provisioning services of their preferred CA at any moment.
Why implement Public Key Infrastructure As a Service?
There are various advantages that you can get by implementing Public Key Infrastructure. Some of these include
- Increased security. Its purpose is to create a secure network and communication between people. If you want to send someone a confidential document, you can encrypt the information so that only the recipient can decrypt it with the right key.
- Lesser risk. When you’re using a digital signature, you’re using a mathematical function with a digital signature to confirm the integrity and authenticity of the information.
- Centralized control. In most cases, organizations need to have a centralized system where all the digital certificates are managed and accessed from a single source.
- Comprehensive view. Having a single source of truth and control of the entire system will help you to have a comprehensive view of the system and easily get insights from all the systems.
Challenges in Implementing PKI as a Service
You will face certain challenges when implementing Public Key Infrastructure as a Service (PKI as a Service). Some of these include;
- Security. The most common concern with PKI is that it will compromise the organization’s security.
- Authentication. There is no perfect way to authenticate users, so it’s impossible to have a single point of failure.
- Governance. Since the system is centralized and stored in one place, it’s prone to governance issues. If a hacker manages to breach the system, it will be tough to manage the damage.
- Scalability. The system needs to be scalable to handle increasing users and requests.
The Bottom Line
Public key infrastructure (PKI) is perhaps the most widespread way of managing identity and security inside Internet communications to safeguard individuals, devices, and data through digital certificates. PKI is the gold standard for authentication and encryption due to its mix of roles, policies, hardware, software, and procedures, and PKI-based certificates are an integral component of the Zero Trust architecture.
The certificates are used to verify the identification of the systems participating in digital communication. Essentially, they provide an encrypted method of determining who you are communicating with without exposing your data to potential hackers.
Therefore, use this guide to learn more about PKI as a service and its modern IT applications.