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3 Myths About In-House CAs and Why You Should Reconsider Using Them

3 Myths About In-House CAs and Why You Should Reconsider Using Them

PKI is the foundation of any strong security posture, but organizations must ensure that their digital certificates, which are issued using Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), also come from a trusted source and have a strong foundation in security.

Some organizations choose to run their own in-house or private Certificate Authorities (CAs) as a matter of convenience, rather than partnering with a publicly trusted cloud-based CA. However, the convenience that in-house CAs offer, such as cost savings and ease of integration into existing infrastructure don’t paint the whole picture and can be misleading. Here is a rundown of the primary reasons organizations tend to opt for in-house CAs, and why your organization should reconsider using them for your security requirements.

1.    Cost Savings

Cost Savings are one of the most common myths around why organizations will opt for in-house and private CAs rather than a publicly trusted certificate authority like GlobalSign. Often it stands to argue that the services of a public CA will cost more for a business who could much more easily and affordably sign their certificates.

This is rarely the case, however. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Employing the use of an in-house or private CA is often less secure, and businesses involved in a breach may find themselves paying much more than the initial costs of procuring the services of a publicly trusted CA.

Public CAs will have the agility and expertise to keep up with developing security threats in the digital market and with regulatory compliance for regional and industry standards.

There are other costs associated with private CAs, too. An internal CA still needs staffing for maintenance and hardware security modules to store certificate roots. Certificate Lifecycle Management (CLM) and validation services such as updating and maintaining Certificate Revocation Lists (CRLs), running Online Certificate Status Protocol (OSCP) services and performing CA security and policy audits all require time, resources and the right expertise.

After all of this, the savings made from running a private CA are marginal at best, and only without the occurrence of a breach, which could still happen. By partnering with a trusted CA like GlobalSign, organizations can ensure that they gain the expertise and solutions that they need to manage their security infrastructure with confidence and assurance.

Read our eBook for a full picture of the costs of running a private CA

2.    Easy Integration

In-house CAs often seem appealing to organizations because they are purportedly easy to integrate with their current systems due to customizable group policies and the ability to integrate with their Active Directory.

This is misleading, however. In-house CAs often require more attention to the initial set-up than when partnering with a publicly trusted CA. The initial set-up of a private CA, including configuration with the Active Directory, requires a specialized skill set in PKI and cybersecurity. Not only this, but it requires the right hardware to run the CA, regular auditing of the security infrastructure, and consistent maintenance by the in-house IT team, who may be sacrificing time and resources that could have been dedicated to other projects.

The thing is that an in-house or private CA, isn’t necessarily any easier for organizations to integrate or configure with their active directory than when partnering with a public CA. Solutions such as GlobalSign’s Certificate Automation Manager are fully automated and integrable with existing systems with the flexibility to configure organization policies.

Partnering with a publicly trusted CA enables organizations to stretch their resources further by offering the expertise and easily integrable solutions needed to keep organization infrastructure secure.

3.    Internal CAs for Internal Certificates

Public trust is the primary reason to partner with a Certificate Authority. PKI assists organizations with securing public facing assets such as using SSL/TLS to secure websites and servers, or document signing solutions to ensure the protection of documents. However, this does not mean that organizations do not need a publicly trusted CA to protect and secure internal assets, such as a private network or email communications.

Partnering with a public CA such as GlobalSign, whether you are using certificates for internal or external purposes, is still vital for securing business communications and maintaining best practices for digital security within your organization.

When it comes to internal business security, there are certain needs that cannot be met when using an in-house or private CA. Organizations should consider the following reasons to partner with a public CA for their security needs:

  • Unmatched Security and Expertise: Public trust does not just apply to public certificates. It means that your organization can also have confidence in the security of your assets and digital communications. Not only this, but a public CA can offer considerably greater expertise on how to keep up with changes within the PKI market, remaining at pace with evolving technology and cybersecurity threats, and advise on the best solutions to meet business requirements.
  • Maintaining Compliance: Public CAs offer solutions that will already meet industrial and regional standards and requirements, and so partnering with a public CA will also ensure that organizations can maintain compliance with standards such a s GDPR and eIDAS, mitigating risks of fines and damage to organization reputation, should your organization fall victim to a breach. 
  • Cost Effectiveness: While using an in-house or private CA for security needs may, seem tempting at first, they are costly and laborious for organizations to maintain when factoring in the expertise and resources required to do so, while also not guaranteed to prevent a breach. Public CAs offer cost effective solutions to secure digital communications, already have expertise on hand to match solutions with business needs, and through public trust can mitigate the risk of a breach and keep up with new and evolving security threats.
  • Efficient Solutions: When using an in-house or private CA, an organization must spend time and resources on configuring their Active Directory and managing certificate lifecycles themselves. Manually doing so is a burdensome, time consuming task for IT personnel and security teams, and pulls resources away from other critical projects and tasks. Public CAs have many solutions on offer that they have built and vetted to ensure high functionality, security and compliance maintenance for Certificate Lifecycle Management (CLM), such as certificate inventories, the ACME protocol, and Certificate Automation Management, to reduce the need for human intervention when maintaining PKI security.

Partnering with a publicly trusted CA offers organizations the ability to secure their infrastructure, not only at a reduced cost than a private CA, but also with greater support, efficiency and the expertise and experience to keep up with compliance, industry changes and developing security threats within the PKI market. Automated solutions such as GlobalSign’s Certificate Automation Manager reduce the manual need for IT intervention and thereby reduce the pressure of certificate lifecycle management in a way that a private or in-house CA cannot.

Myths about the cost effectiveness and easy integration of private CAs are not in the whole picture, and organizations should seriously reconsider their aptitude for securing internal communications, data and assets. Organizations should consider that partnering with a publicly trusted CA, such as GlobalSign, would be the most effective solution in ensuring business security.

Start securing your future: Read our Beyond the Budget eBook now 

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