Ensuring secure online access and transactions is critical in today’s digital business environment. Enterprise businesses must implement the right technologies and procedures to build trust and protect their data. The good news is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Public key infrastructure (PKI)?offers a globally accepted standard for implementing various security protocols and authentication mechanisms.?
Here’s what PKI is and how it works.
What Is PKI: Purpose, Components, and Key Concepts
PKI is a set of policies, procedures, and technologies for creating, distributing, storing, and revoking digital certificates. It helps secure online communication, establish trust for electronic transactions (e.g., e-commerce and online banking), and authenticate the identity of an entity in an online environment. The framework also supports the implementation of security concepts such as encryption, digital signatures, and authentication.
PKI is composed of these key components:
Public and private keys: The public key is used for encryption, and the corresponding private key is for decryption.?
Digital certificates: These digital documents bind an entity’s public key to its identity to verify its authenticity.
Certificate authorities (CAs): These trusted third-party organizations issue and manage digital certificates.
PKI in Cybersecurity: Protecting Digital Ecosystems
PKI is a critical cybersecurity component. For example, encryption ensures data confidentiality, enables secure communication, and protects sensitive information from unauthorized access. Digital signatures support data integrity by demonstrating that the information hasn’t been tampered with during transit. PKI also authenticates entities with digital certificates to mitigate the risks of impersonation or fraudulent activities.
These use cases illustrate how PKI plays a critical role in cybersecurity:
Secure Online Transactions
E-commerce platforms with Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) certificates use PKI to safeguard sensitive customer data like personal information and payment details. PKI encrypts the data transmitted between the web browser on a user’s device and the merchant’s web server, protecting it from interception during transmission.
Secure Email Communication
Email systems can use PKI to support end-to-end encryption and ensure that only the intended recipient can read the message or see the attachments. Meanwhile, digital signatures help verify an email’s authenticity and integrity to guard against fraud, tampering, or impersonation.
Digital Document Signing
PKI is the foundation of?e-signature applications?and enables the secure signing of digital documents. It generates?digital signatures?to confirm the legal validity and integrity of the signed documents, verify the signer’s identity, and ensure that the file remains untampered when in use or during transit.
The Importance of PKI for Enterprise Business: Beyond Regulatory Compliance
Many data privacy laws—e.g., Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), etc.—require PKI to ensure data security through authentication and non-repudiation mechanisms. But the benefits of PKI go beyond regulatory compliance. For example, PKI provides the foundation for securing enterprise communications and protecting sensitive data with encryption and digital signatures. It can safeguard email exchanges, file transfers, and access to internal systems.?
Additionally, PKI can be integrated with identity and access management (IAM) systems to enhance access control, strengthen user authorization, and support a zero-trust architecture. By leveraging digital certificates and robust authentication mechanisms, PKI-based IAM systems can better prevent unauthorized access and identity fraud while establishing a secure environment for accessing business-critical data, applications, and other resources.
Here are examples of how enterprise businesses can use PKI to support their operations:
Secure Remote Access
Use PKI to authenticate virtual private network (VPN) clients, encrypt data during transmission, and protect the integrity of VPN connections to allow employees to access company data and resources from anywhere.
Use PKI to verify the authenticity and integrity of new software and application updates. This reduces the risks of malware or tampered software.
Secure Web Services
Enterprises can use SSL/TLS certificates to secure web services and application programming interfaces (APIs). PKI helps ensure encrypted and authenticated communication between systems to protect against?unauthorized access or data breaches.
Reap the Benefits of PKI for Enterprise Businesses
Digital certificates are essential PKI components, but managing thousands of them can become an administrative burden for enterprises. To reap the benefits of PKI, companies must be able to efficiently provision, renew, revoke, and manage certificates for multiple systems and users with a robust certificate lifecycle management (CLM) platform.
Sectigo Certificate Manager is a centralized CLM system that leverages advanced automation technology to help you get the most out of PKI and digital certificates. It enables you to streamline operations, reduce administrative overhead, and minimize outages or breaches caused by expired or compromised certificates.?
Learn more about Sectigo Certificate Manager and sign up for your 30-day free trial today.
*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from Sectigo authored by Sectigo. Read the original post at: https://www.sectigo.com/resource-library/pki-for-enterprise-businesses-the-why-and-how