We are living in a digitally transformed world, with business and personal transactions involving sensitive information conducted over the internet in countless numbers. As our digital technologies have advanced, so too have the frequency and variety of cybercrime. With the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT) and plethora of remote endpoints, ensuring the security of websites has become an absolute imperative.
What’s more, recent announcements from Google are seeing a shift in the way security is to be presented to users but also (and arguably the more painful point for IT teams) is the validity period of SSL/TLS certificates is to be reduced.
In this blog, we’ll explore why SSL/TLS certificates are important and how a certificate inventory tool, such as Atlas Discovery, can help you visualize what certificates you have in your organization.
SSL/TLS Certificates Ensure Website Security
Most websites and all major browsers now require digital SSL/TLS certificates. Transport Layer Security (TLS) are the more advanced form of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates, but the terms are used singularly or together. These certificates encrypt private data that is transmitted to create heightened security and privacy for users. The concept of ‘digital trust’ is the triad of encryption, security, and identity applied across interactions and unifies SSL/TLS, PKI, and IoT security measures.
SSL/TLS certificates verify website ownership and establish user trust by authenticating the server and domain. They effectively thwart hackers from the serious repercussions of domain spoofing attacks. The lack of SSL/TLS certificate security on a website can be costly negligence. Major browsers will usually display a “Not Secure” notice in the address bar, which will undoubtedly result in customers abandoning a transaction, as well as any future interactions with that company.
Certificates validate website identity for users, thereby gaining their trust. SSL/TLS certificates are also one of the PCI/DSS (payment card industry data security standard) compliance requirements. All businesses that store, process, or transmit sensitive and private payment card data must be PCI compliant.
The Perils of Poor Certificate Management
While certificates offer essential and robust security, integrity, and authenticity, their prevalence has created a downside. Their ubiquitous use has become a substantial management headache, due to laborious manual tracking and errors resulting from lack of inventory knowledge and visibility.
Certificates come with an expiration date; usually 1-3 years in duration (although this is expected to change). When a company loses sight of the number, origin, and expiration of their certificate inventory, the fallout can be devastating. Monitoring all certificates for validity and expiration dates is vitally important in order to avoid outages and crashed websites that can lead to loss of revenue and user trust.
According to the 2022 State of Machine Identity Management Report conducted by KeyFactor and Ponemon Institute, 81% of organizations have experienced at least two or more disruptive outages caused by expired certificates in the past two years. Expired SSL/TLS certificates trigger warnings in browsers that can decrease traffic to a website, cause reputational damage and regulatory scrutiny. Users that receive an alarming warning message that details a threat to privacy will have the option to hit a ‘Back to Safety’ button. The lion’s share of users will click that button, and henceforth, avoid that site. It is easy to see how even one expired certificate can wreak havoc.
In addition to expiration issues, certificate management must be vigilant to discern the presence of any shadow certificates. These are digital certificates that may be introduced by employees, which are unguarded, exposed and invisible to IT and security teams. Certificate inventory management requires comprehensive, ongoing monitoring to be fully aware of the full scope of certificates in use, their expiration dates, and processes for renewal or additions. In the Machine Identity Report, 57% of respondents cited complete visibility of all certificates as a top priority.
Atlas Discovery Certificate Inventory Tool Finds Every Certificate
Certificate management is difficult and labor intensive. It involves tracking the Certificate Authority (CA) of each certificate, where it was installed, location, expiration date, cryptosystem used, key length, and algorithm.
Atlas Discovery, part of GlobalSign’s next-generation cloud PKI platform, shows all the SSL/TLS certificates on your network, both internal and public-facing, regardless of the issuing CA. Once you configure Discovery, Atlas scans your chosen endpoints for certificates to ensure they’re protected. Certificates that are about to expire are shown on the Atlas Discovery Dashboard for you to track and then make preparations for renewal.
Atlas Discovery Certificate Inventory Delivers Essential and Comprehensive Benefits:
- Finds and monitors all internal and public-facing SSL/TLS certificates, regardless of issuing CA, including self-signed from one central location
- Easily tracks the source and issuing CA for all certificates
- Locates any shadow certificates purchased outside the standard procurement process
- Keeps up with baseline requirements and best practices by viewing certificates based on key length, algorithm and validity period
- Saves valuable time and resources by eliminating the need for manual monitoring
Click here to learn more about how Atlas Discovery makes keeping track of certificate inventory simple, straightforward, and accurate.