Navigating the Certificate Lifecycle Management Landscape

In today's digital age, the Internet ofThings (IoT) has transformed the way we live and work, opening newpossibilities for connectivity. Yet, this expanding web of IoT devices brings aunique set of security challenges, and at the heart of these challenges laysthe management of digital certificates. This article explores the crucial roleof Certificate Lifecycle Management (CLM) for IoT, where BxC's PKI (Public KeyInfrastructure) expertise can assist, making the complex task seem simple.

The CLM Puzzle

Enterprises today are dealing with the pressing need to handle their digital certificates CLM- discovering, deploying, revoking, and replacing them. This is often happening in an environment that is a diverse mix of on-premises and cloud infrastructure. The rapid adoption of cloud technology, digital transformation initiatives, remote work arrangements, automation, and the ever-expanding IoT ecosystem have led to an overwhelming amount of being responsible for the CLM of digital certificates.

These certificates serve a multitude of purposes, from securing zero-trust access and enabling passwordless authentication to supporting digital signing and ensuring Robotic Process Automation (RPA) security. The volume and variety of digital certificates have rendered traditional certificate management approaches inadequate.

The Limitations of Tradition

Traditional methods of handling certificates manually are error-prone and fail to scale up to the modern certificate management requirements. Some legacy CLM solutions are not geared towards leveraging cloud- and identity-first principles for a zero-trust infrastructure.

The Four Key Phases

CLM is not a one-size-fits-all solution; it is a process that evolves in phases:

1) Issuance: It is the birth of the certificate - a process that includes verifying the identity it represents, creating, and securely storing the certificate

2) Usage: These certificates are the digital keys that ensure secure device communication by validating identities

3) Renewal: Certificates have a finite lifespan and must be renewed periodically to maintain continuous security

4) Revocation/Expiration: Sometimes, circumstances require certificates to be revoked prematurely, or they might simply expire if not renewed

Brownfield Environments: A Unique Challenge

Brownfield environments, where older and newer IoT devices coexist, bring a unique set of challenges. Older devices often lack support for the latest security features and certificate management capabilities. This disparity makes managing certificate lifecycles in brownfield settings a tricky task.

The Need for Automated Management

In brownfield settings, automation is the key to effective CLM. Tools and platforms that can automatically identify devices, assess their certificate statuses, and automate renewals or revocations are invaluable. But it is not just about using these tools; it is about integrating them seamlessly with your existing legacy devices and systems.

Bridging IT and OT CLM

A significant challenge within IoT environments lies in the divide between Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT). The two have distinct requirements:

1) IT CLM: In IT, the focus is on managing certificates for data, applications, and networks. This includes securing user identities, ensuring data integrity, and enabling secure communication. Compliance with regulations like GDPR or HIPAA is often a priority

2) OT CLM: Operational Technology is about managing certificates for machinery, sensors, and control systems in the physical world. The primary concern is system reliability, safety, and uninterrupted operations. Certificates here are vital for securing critical infrastructure, such as power plants and manufacturing facilities

BxC's Expertise in Action

In the intricate realm of cybersecurity, BxC stands out with its focused consideration for CLM. Our specialty is offering remote and hybrid consulting and integration services tailored to your unique needs. We offer a PKI team to focus on this and surrounding topics for a secure and business-supporting PKI implementation and its management. Contact us if you are interested in exploring the benefits of CLM in your environment.