All You Need to Know About Managed PKI

Proper management of public key infrastructure (PKI) by enterprise IT teams are becoming increasingly complex and laborious. The growing number of enterprise users with PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones makes it impossible to keep pace with PKI implementations. Because security is paramount and PKI is quite common, a business must either be experts or outsource its PKI life cycle management to industry professionals. 

Enterprise technological resources are becoming overburdened. In addition to facilitating their core business, they must also manage the life cycle of ever-managing PKI needs, ensuring that users and applications are secured with the appropriate access restrictions, authentication, and encryption. PKI comprises the roles, rules, and processes required to govern digital certificates’ issuance, installation, and renewal. 

However, implementing, running, and maintaining a company’s PKI is complicated. The results of even a single misstep can be catastrophic. Increasingly, enterprises are shifting to PKI as a service (PKIS) to retain security while simplifying the work. 

Let’s discuss managed PKI services in detail to evaluate if they are the optimal solution for your firm.

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What is Managed PKI and How Does It Work? 

Managed PKI refers to the cloud-based management of digital certificates. Digital certificate managers allow users to quickly issue, deploy, troubleshoot, renew, and automate PKI certificates like TLS/SSL. 

A public key infrastructure is essential to the secure certificate-based authentication in public key cryptography. To install certificates in your business, you must determine whether a private or managed PKI would be more advantageous. Understanding what an MPKI is essential before deciding the right option for your business. 

Some firms have indicated that maintaining PKIs requires a high level of cybersecurity knowledge, which is one of the obstacles preventing them from using the technology. Fortunately, an MPKI eliminates the need for regular upkeep and costly renovations. 

Managed PKIs require the use of third parties for management purposes. This will make your IT department’s job easier by building and maintaining the PKI for you and gradually save you money and time. In addition, you will not need to hire extra personnel to maintain the PKI. 

Managed PKI services are generally hosted on the cloud. Therefore, they are both highly scalable and accessible from anywhere worldwide. Most offices don’t require physical PKIs on their premises. 

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Advantages of Managed PKI 

Market speed and scalability 

One of the key advantages of a managed PKI solution over an in-house approach is how much more quickly and affordably device provisioning can be implemented. There is no need to invest time and money into recruiting and training new employees or constructing and implementing new infrastructure, software, and operational procedures. 

Furthermore, since an internal PKI involves extensive infrastructure and planning, it might be difficult for a business to adapt to market or business objectives changes. On the other hand, a managed PKI service allows for flexible identity provisioning that may be expanded or contracted on demand. 

Hardware Security Modules 

Managed PKIs employ hardware security modules (HSMs) – customized peripheral cards or devices that execute secure cryptographic operations. HSMs are costly but critical equipment for ensuring that keys and cryptographic activities are never exposed. Creating an internal PKI solution necessitates absorbing the initial CAPEX expense that comes with HSMs. However, when using a Managed PKI service, IoT platform providers could use a scalable business model with no upfront costs for HSM for key storage. 

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Lifecycle certificate management 

When managing an in-house PKI platform, it isn’t easy to manage device identities during the lifetime of an IoT device. On the other hand, a managed PKI service monitors the issuance, renewal, usage, and possible misuse of certificates during their lifecycle to preserve confidence in the public key infrastructure. Hacked systems may be vulnerable to intrusion if certificates are compromised. To avoid this, managed PKI services keep track of certificates that have been hacked or misused so that they may be removed from the Certificate Revocation List and no longer be trusted. 

Providing complicated device identities 

Some PKI services can provide device identities with sophisticated digital certificates that provide greater flexibility, capability, and security than X.509 certificates. Although X.509 certificates offer authentication and enable secure communication, they cannot support the device to check the validity of code or firmware upgrades, give authorization statements, define what the device is permitted to do, or securely maintain sensitive data. IoT devices are especially reliant on the provisioning of intricate device identities. 

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The Bottom Line 

Since there has been an expansion in the number of devices using the internet to interact with each other, the need for a strong PKI cannot be overstated. Mobile devices, payment systems, and IoT-enabled hardware are some infrastructures that need PKI for security. Without it, they would be in danger of cyber risk and fail to meet the compliance criteria that various authorities have set. 

If you don’t need to share information across several offices and want complete control from the outset, an on-premises PKI may be the way to go. However, MPKIs is preferable to other options in most cases. 

With a managed PKI service, you can provide a trusted environment for developing, producing, and keeping tabs on a system of interconnected devices. With secure authentication, millions of devices can join a network without worrying that a single system breach will compromise the entire system. 


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