The rush for digital transformation amid the Covid-19 pandemic has led to many organisations shifting their operations to the cloud. According to a recent survey, Singapore leads the Southeast Asia region in cloud adoption, and many companies’ hybrid cloud approach was key to business continuity during the pandemic.
However, increasingly relying on the cloud creates more vulnerabilities if not properly secured. As such, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) has become crucial to secure the cloud and provide strong authentication and operational integrity at scale.
As PKI is not easy to manage, the business case for implementing automation now is becoming more and more apparent. This will allow companies to free up employees’ time for other projects and priorities.
Here are some compelling reasons why companies should start using automation tools to manage digital certificates:
1. Increase efficiency with automation
Business productivity and performance can be boosted with automation tools that reduce human error, save time and money, and make certificate management easier. One survey found that almost three-quarters of IT and engineering leaders say process automation has helped their workforce save at least 11-30% of the time previously spent on manual processes. Rather than attempting to manually manage the certificate inventory, companies can focus on other projects and priorities. What could teams accomplish with that time back?
Automation tools also enable faster decisions with real-time, actionable insights into certificate inventory. Revenue losses can be prevented by having control and insight into certificates to make better decisions faster and remain compliant.
Automation is becoming necessary to increase business efficiency, and we predict that eventually every company will need to implement certificate automation. Get ahead of competition by using automation earlier and achieve increased efficiency.
2. Support compliance and auditability with automation
Most teams do not have the bandwidth to dedicate a team member to certificate management alone, and it can be time-consuming – almost a full-time job – to manage certificates and keep up with industry changes. Automation in this case makes it easier and more efficient for companies to keep up with changes and maintain visibility over their certificate network.
Additionally, many organisations are at risk as they do not have proper certificate management. Outdated protocols can expose data and increase vulnerability, which are easy for attackers to exploit. Companies need to replace certificates swiftly in case of outages, typically within five days, and this can be as short as 24 hours for key compromise.
However, without automated renewal and revocation, replacing certificates in that timeframe will only cause headache. It is not to mention that attacks also have costly consequences.
3. Increased certificate usage
Transport Layer Security (TLS) usage will increase by a quarter in the next few years, according to 80% of organisations. Digital certificate use is growing rapidly for cloud applications and user authentication, and in the next two years, an average of 41% of IoT devices will rely primarily on digital certificates for identification and authentication.
This increased usage will only increase the consequences of outages. With the growing complexity of IT systems, 85% of CIOs also believe that outages will become even more damaging.
Small organisations should also recognise that while manual processes may work for them, it does not hold up at scale. Companies that expect to be using more certificates in time to come will need to consider employing automation.
4. Keep up with shorter certificate lifetimes
As of 1 September 2020, certificate lifetimes were shortened to a one-year maximum. Automation was a nice to have, but it is now necessary to help companies keep up with certificate management.
As certificate lifetimes become shorter, we recognise that the task of managing certificate inventory will get increasingly difficult, and manually managing certificates with spreadsheets and notifications is no longer viable.
Additionally, further reduction of lifetimes in the future will require the use of additional automation to simplify the certificate management process.
5. Web threats are evolving in sophistication
Cyber-attacks are coming more frequently across multiple threat vectors, and are becoming more successful, with 68% of organisations in Asia Pacific stating that they had been successfully breached by some form of cyber-attack.
As web threats evolve in sophistication, companies are looking to more efficient technology solutions that incorporate automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Indeed, automated processes make it easier to stay ahead of threats and respond quickly in case of breaches.
With quantum computing on the horizon, having certificate inventories that are not crypto-agile will cause companies’ network to be vulnerable to attacks.
Companies should not underestimate the time required to transition a company’s cryptography from using certificates with classic algorithms to post-quantum algorithms.
Automation tools can help companies become more adaptable in protecting themselves against threats, by discovering outdated certificates that support pre-quantum cryptography and replace them quickly.
Finally, attackers are ready to take advantage of any vulnerabilities they can find, especially with the global transition to remote work over the past year. Other than securing remote workforce with best practices, companies can look to automation to help simplify remote management tasks.
6. Avoid serious consequences from certificate outages
The average cost of a data breach was $3.9 million in 2019, while certificate outages can cost over $500,000 per hour. In addition to the loss of revenue, it is time-consuming to repair expired certificates, as repairing one certificate alone can take hours or days.
Certificate outages can also damage companies’ brand reputation and relationship with end-users.
In 2020, a popular music streaming service’s expired certificate left users without access to their music for over an hour. This resulted in thousands of complaints on Twitter. For days after the outage, articles with headlines “The Day the Music Died” continued to plague the organisation.
Automated certificate renewal can help companies avoid expirations and costly downtime like this incident. Moreover, it allows companies to tackle issues more efficiently and focus on other priorities.