Encryption Key Management

From handling internal operations to organizing relationships with external investors and partners, enterprise administrators have a lot on their plates. One aspect of running a large company that cannot be ignored is digital security and regulatory compliance, both of which are components of encryption key management.

Generating encryption for vital company systems isn’t the hard part; it’s more about the handling of encryption keys. How can you prevent cyberattacks while still letting authorized users access the resources they need to do their jobs? What can you do to make the entire process faster and more secure?

What Is an Encryption Key?

It’s no secret that enterprises deal with classified data all the time, so how do we prevent cybercriminals from intercepting it? Encryption is a data security measure. By using algorithms, IT teams can encode sensitive enterprise data into ciphertext, making it unreadable to anybody who isn’t the intended recipient.

When the information is delivered from one part of the organization to another, the receiving party uses the encryption key to decode the ciphertext back into the original data. This process brings up the question: what happens if an attacker gains access to the encryption key itself (such as with the SolarWinds hack)? That’s the type of problem that encryption key management aims to solve.

What Is Encryption Key Management?

Encryption key management essentially deals with cryptographic keys throughout their entire lifecycles. From the moment they are generated to how they are stored, how they are used, and how they are tracked, key management is an everyday practice for enterprises, which always need to handle privileged access for their employees, managers, business partners, and even servers.

How businesses manage keys depends on their size and context. Some of them simply store the keys locally; others may generate keys from a passphrase. Enterprise applications, however, demand a more advanced, active approach. These managers separate the keys from their associated data for security purposes and often have to work with a large variety of keys and secrets.

The weapon of choice here is a robust enterprise key management system. It’s the best method for handling enterprise-grade cybersecurity, especially when you have hundreds upon thousands of keys, users, and privileges spread across the entire organization.

Encryption Key Rotation Best Practices

Keep your enterprise’s confidential information safe without compromising on the productivity of your workflows. Learn some best practices of this essential part of cybersecurity.

  • Decentralize the encryption. Rather than have a single encryption server handle everything, try to generate each key locally before distributing it to the rest of the company. This strategy results in a more optimized usage of network bandwidth and a lower chance of data interception.
  • But centralize the key management. While encrypting and decrypting data can happen at the local level, you still want to manage your keys in a central location (i.e. a key management system). Handle cryptographic keys by generating, storing, rotating, and removing keys as necessary, all from one place. This practice extends to user profiles as well, which represent every individual user and application in the business.
  • Support multiple encryption standards. Enterprises work with other companies all the time and sometimes undergo mergers and acquisitions. The result is a large number of different encryption types working simultaneously. Make sure your key management solution supports all the industry standards.
  • Have audit logs ready. Keep records of every activity, from granted privileges to logins to the time and date of each event. It’s the best way to search for past suspicious activity and align yourself with data security regulations.
  • Look for third-party integrations. You likely work with a wide array of enterprise tools. Every device and software solution you use, from mobile devices to terminals, has its own function within your organization. Make sure the key management suite you’re using can work well with all your tools.

As data breaches become more commonplace, successful enterprise digital security departments understand the importance of solid encryption and a robust key management system.