Whether you’re new to the world of digital certificates or are simply looking to expand your knowledge base, there are many things to learn about certificate lifecycle management. It’s an exciting field brimming with new happenings, so you don’t want to be on the sidelines at any point.
Consider this blog your starter pack for grasping the intricacies of certificate lifecycle management; below are some essential do’s and don’ts.
1. DO Acquaint Yourself with the Basics
Certificate lifecycle management (CLM) is about monitoring and managing X.509 certificates (SSL/TLS certificates) throughout their lifespan. X.509 certificates offer unparalleled authentication and encryption for your online business data, making them the most robust digital identity solution available today.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate management actively pinpoints and addresses problematic certificates, including expired, compromised, or rogue ones. Then it executes the following processes:
2. DON’T Manage Your Certificates Manually
You’ve probably heard this a thousand times before, but we’ll say it anyway: Automated certificate management systems should be implemented as soon as possible!
With manual processes, implementing everyday certificate tasks such as creation, renewal, and revocation would typically involve teaming up with several IT teams and getting multiple approvals. The approval process for a certificate request may take unnecessarily long, leading to delays in issuance and provisioning. This, in turn, may cause abrupt service outages. And you know what that means for your reputation, bottom line, and customer satisfaction scores (read: damage).
What’s worse, manual processes provide very little insight into new crypto standards. That means you won’t know when best to upgrade weak certificates. This puts you a few steps behind hackers and makes the upgrading process incredibly long and tedious.
An automated certificate management system makes CLM a total breeze by:
- Removing human effort from the process and automating all certificate processes such as renewals and revocations.
- Enabling IT teams to manage and track certificates from one do-it-all platform (i.e., single pane of glass).
- Providing visibility, control, and insights on certificates, their crypto standards, and their expiry timeframes.
3. DO Steer Clear of Using Self-Generated and Longer Validity Certificates
Raise one hand if requesting a certificate and servicing a certificate is still a hassle in your organization. Well, you’re not alone. In a bid to expedite the whole process, many teams still choose to generate SSL/TLS certificates by themselves. That’s not the worst part, this is: they make sure these certificates have lengthy validity timelines to avoid the pain of constant renewals. But as they soon find out, that’s a very wrong move.
Self-generated certificates hardly ever have the correct documentation. With that in mind, during a deprecation (say, a switch and complete rollover to SHA-2), these certificates may not be included as part of the migration. This results in an outage that would easily have been avoided.
4. Don’t Ignore CT Logs
Certificate Transparency (CT) Logs are important because they allow website owners (like yourself) to track all publicly issued SSL/TLS certificates for their domain(s). This way, you can effectively protect against malicious actors gaining domain control
Importantly, CT Logs also enable the detection of mis-issued certificates. By publicly logging all issued certificates, it becomes nearly impossible for a CA to issue a certificate without proper authorization. Remember, not too long ago, when Google took Symantec to the woodshed for mis-issuing 30,000 certificates? Symantec eventually lost its place in the trusted Certificate Authority Program. The only way to pinpoint mis-issued certificates for your domain is to go through these logs continually.
It’s Time to Automate Certificate Management System
If you’re to take just one takeaway from this article, let it be that automated certificate lifecycle management (CLM) solutions streamline all certificate processes end-to-end. No more expensive outages, wasted time, or costly errors. All those fade into the background as you embrace and benefit from the power of automation.
Sectigo’s automated certificate management solutions could be the answer to your CLM woes, helping you move from reactive to proactive mode with the help of advanced PKI management tools.