The use of cryptography is the foundation for secure processing of financial and other electronic transactions. The management of the associated cryptographic keys, on the other hand, has been equally effective at stressing the capabilities of your people, processes, and systems. With that in mind, here are three advantages that automated key management will give you and your organization.
One primary issue arising from the explosive growth in the use of crypto keys is the creation of isolated and fragmented systems. As locations and systems were rapidly brought into the fold of using cryptography, it was nearly impossible to keep everything in sync - the problem is enhanced when considering the management of cryptographic keys throughout their lifecyle. Companies were forced to respond by implementing on-the-fly manual processes that were repeatedly performed by a limited number of skilled professionals.
This led to a lack of clear process ownership and the stressing of your limited personnel. This also opened up many organizations to a wide range of security risks. Automated key management through a centralized key management system (KMS) can address all of these issues.
First, it defines specific roles and responsibilities for all your sets of cryptographic keys regardless of the location or system. This allows you to effectively allocate your skilled personnel to focus on mission-critical processes rather than a series of mundane and repetitive tasks.
Secondly, the automated creation, distribution, and control of crypto keys across any number of disparate systems are handled with minimal human intervention. This reduces the number of risk exposures and opportunities for human error. Finally, your organization will benefit from improved process efficiency and reduced costs associated with managing the lifecycle of your keys.
If being able to properly manage your crypto keys is challenging, being able to consistently prove to auditors, business partners, and executive management that you are doing it is another challenge altogether. This is another area where automated key management can prove its value.
As experienced CIOs, CISOs, and IT management veterans know all too well, there are an overwhelming number of standards, controls, and audits to manage. Through automated key management, you can stay ahead of the curve by centrally enforcing security controls and automating the deployment of policies and procedures to remote locations and disparate systems. Get it right the first time and every other iteration is handled for you.
The primary benefits here are related to the management and mitigation of risk. After all, that is the prime directive behind the laundry list of controls that are required for securing online transactions. By reducing the number of exposure points in your crypto key management system, you minimize the opportunities for error with your people, processes, and systems.
Measurable equals Manageable
It was the famous business management author, Peter Drucker, that coined the phrase “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” This phrase has become foundational for business management in general and it is certainly relevant when it comes to key management.
Another challenge with disparate manual key management systems was a lack of coherent reporting capabilities. Even if you were capable of gathering data and metrics for a given location or system, it was nearly impossible to seamlessly integrate that with statistics from all your other processes. Automated key management solves this problem with consistent, connected, and detailed reporting.
Automated key management provides audit and usage logs that can be used to effectively manage the security and efficiency of your critical systems. You can also evaluate the effectiveness of asynchronous workflows that can streamline processes and reduce costs.
Give your organization the advantages it deserves with automated & centralized key management.
References and Further Reading
- Buyer’s Guide to Choosing a Crypto Key Management System - Part 1: What is a key management system (2018), by Rob Stubbs
- Buyer's Guide to Choosing a Crypto Key Management System; Part 2: The Requirement for a Key Management System (2018), by Rob Stubbs
- Buyer’s Guide to Choosing a Crypto Key Management System - Part 3: Choosing the Right Key Management System (2018), by Rob Stubbs
NIST SP800-57 Part 1 Revision 4: A Recommendation for Key Management (2016) by Elaine Barker
Selected articles on Key Management (2012-today) by Ashiq JA, Dawn M. Turner, Guillaume Forget, James H. Reinholm, Peter Landrock, Peter Smirnoff, Rob Stubbs, Stefan Hansen and more
CKMS Product Sheet (2016), by Cryptomathic