6 Easy And Effective Tips For Setting Up Your Own PKI 

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One of the significant aspects of securing a network is to protect data flow as it moves between data centers. Public key infrastructure (PKI) is critical in data protection by securing trust between connected devices.  

The PKI design deals with digital certificates that prove the ownership and the legitimacy of security keys. Here, we specify some tips on how you can set up your own PKI. 

Identification of certificate requirements 

When building your own PKI, you begin with identifying all current and future requirements for digital certificates. This involves the current certificates within your Public Key Infrastructure and how you are planning to use them. A few standard certificates like SSL/TLS are used to secure communication channels between a client and the server and code signing that signs the code to verify the owner.   

Public key infrastructure comprises services, standards, and protocols. As a framework for cybersecurity, PKI design and implementation are an ideal way to handle client authentication and private and public keys. Private and public keys are the essential elements used for data encryption. The role of these private and public keys is to encrypt and decrypt data using cryptography to secure a network. You must understand certificate requirements and their function before you start building a PKI. 

Selection of the correct certificate authority   

A certificate authority (CA) is the independent provider of digital certificates in PKI infrastructure. You need to select the type of Certificate Authority (CA) that fits your needs depending on your requirements. Several certificate authorities (CA), such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, are some of the popular certificate authorities. Before settling on one CA, consider CA’s thought leadership, customer service, and available tools. An excellent certificate authority (CA) should offer more than certificates to help speed up your growth.   

PKI relies on the CA that issues the root certificate and other digital certificates. You must have the CA to access secure networks such as a web server. Selection of the right CA is crucial in building your PKI. A trustworthy certificate authority will ensure your network is safe and secure in a highly cut-throat competitive marketplace. CAs provide services to protect businesses by adopting new technologies to ensure dependability. As website security is vital for an organization, the CA should have an infrastructure that is the latest and up to the task. 

Choosing between On-premises or Cloud hosting.   

Next, you need to decide whether it will be On-premises or Cloud hosting in building your own PKI. On-premise PKI involves handling all PKI and certificate management processes within the facility. It is more secure provided you have the expertise and will allow experts appropriate time to manage. The on-premises option enables organizations to have total control over sensitive commercial areas. 

On the other hand, Cloud-based PKI is externally hosted. It reduces the financial burden on individual organizations. It allows organizations to minimize costs like infrastructure and personnel training associated with PKI deployments. Hence, you will not require an on-premise infrastructure when you use managed services.  

When you migrate from on-premise to cloud-based PKI, most issues related to managing the system are removed. Cloud-based hosting provides a more tailored solution compatible with your security infrastructure. 

Understanding of certificate management 

When you set up your own PKI infrastructure, it does not automatically secure your networks. You require proper certificate management for the security strategy of your organization. Automating the certificate management operations is an essential requirement of building a PKI. This helps you avoid simple mistakes that may prove expensive in network security. 

Certificate management combines several processes, such as generating PKI certificates and revoting them in a network. Certificate management also describes the distribution and renewal of PKI certificates to keep them functioning optimally.   

Although digital certificates work well when properly configured, you must visualize the big picture of how certificate management is related to the PKI. 

Securing your root CA private keys 

You must adequately store the root CA and all cryptographic materials as a prized possession. If the private root keys fall into malicious hands, it can enable an attacker to take complete control over your public key infrastructure and issue bogus and false certificates. This compromise will force revocation and re-issuance of all previously issued certificates. Consequently, it will also destroy the trust of your PKI and increase the costs of re-establishing a new root CA. 

Therefore, you must secure your root CA private throughout the building. The key must be safeguarded at all costs to ensure no person gains unauthorized access. A certified hardware security module (HSM) enables you to protect the root CA private keys. Additionally, it is a tamper-proof device that meets the highest security standards. 

Creating CP (Certificate Policy) and CPS (Certificate Policy Statement)   

The Certificate policy and its statement define the policies for your Certificate Authorities and will assist you in designing your PKI infrastructure. These documents also act as the framework and scope of your Certificate Authority, telling it to whom it can issue certificates, the boundaries within which the CA will work, and the procedures used to manage your CA. Likewise, you need to ensure that certificates are revoked when necessary and that when they are revoked, they are placed into the CRL. Ask your CAs to regularly check for new CRLs, keeping them updated on the latest certificates that were revoked. 

Final Thoughts 

Several organizations are migrating to digital certificates to increase the security levels on their networks. Public key infrastructure (PKI) manages digital credentials and cryptographic keys to establish trust relationships. You must note that PKI is more complicated than you may realize since it operates on a timescale. The needs of an organization and your understanding of the critical elements will go a long way in successfully implementing a PKI infrastructure.