10 recommendations for improving encryption practises Administration of Keys and Safety of Data
October 1, 2022

10 recommendations for improving encryption practises Administration of Keys and Safety of Data

In the context of the modern business environment, the quantity of information that companies collect and oversee is of unfathomably massive dimensions. This amount of data is significant to businesses, and it is often kept hidden to a considerable degree because of its value. As a result, preventing data from falling into the hands of cybercriminals ought to be one of the most important priorities for every firm that deals with this data.

Encryption of data, thus, plays a crucial part in the process. Data that has been encrypted may be rendered unusable in the event that it is obtained by an unauthorised party. The decryption of data requires the use of appropriate keys.

Asymmetric and symmetric encryption keys are the two primary classifications of encryption keys. The data may be encrypted and decrypted using the same key if a symmetric key was used for the data while it was at rest. On the other hand, asymmetric keys are used for data that is in motion and rely on both a public key and a private key that is connected to the public key but is kept separate.

In addition, the administration of these encryption keys need to be an organization’s principal responsibility. If the encryption key is taken along with the data that has been encrypted, the encryption will be rendered almost completely unusable. As a result, it is essential for every firm to take action and implement basic procedures that guarantee the correct administration of encryption keys.

In light of this, the following are ten tried-and-true methods for the administration of encryption keys.

The Algorithm and Size of the Encryption Key

When discussing encryption keys, it is of the highest significance to choose the appropriate algorithm as well as the appropriate key size. A lot of aspects come into play here, the most significant of which is the security component. These considerations include the utilisation factor, longevity, performance, and most crucially, security. The level of confidentiality required for the data should dictate the length of the key, whether it be 128 or 256 bit key sizes for AES or 2048 or 4096 bit key lengths for RSA. On the other hand, very long keys may also cause performance concerns.

Because it makes it possible to make modifications to algorithms and keys throughout the course of time, agility is yet another extremely crucial quality to possess. Because of the tendency of algorithms to become less secure with the passage of time, it is critical to have the ability to change encryption keys on a regular basis. Support for several standards in terms of algorithms is another option that may be taken into consideration. This may be necessary in the event of acquisitions or mergers, when other firms use different encryption standards, so it is important to take this into account. In addition, it is recommended that symmetric keys be used for data that is at rest, while asymmetric keys be utilised for data that is in motion.

The Consolidation of the Key Administration System

The typical number of encryption keys used by businesses might range anywhere from several hundred to even thousands. When you need instant access to these keys, proper and safe storage of these keys might become a big issue for you. This is particularly true when you need access to these keys as soon as possible. As a result of this, there is an absolute need for a centralised key management system.

It is recommended that a company establish an internal key management service as the standard operating procedure. On the other hand, this may not always be feasible, and instead, a more complex strategy may need the use of the services of a third party. These keys are often kept in a location that is separate from the encrypted data. This provides an additional benefit in the event that there is a breach of data, since it makes it less likely that the encryption keys would be stolen.

The local encryption and decryption processes are carried out locally, while the storage, rotation, generation, and other processes are carried out at a distance from the real location of the data. This makes the centralised process advantageous in terms of processing as well.

Secure Storage

A hardware security module, more commonly known as an HSM, is an excellent choice for the storage of encryption keys. This is because encryption keys are often the target of cybercriminals and attackers. The use of HSM provides not only a logical but also a substantial level of security for the enterprise.

A strategy for the organization’s physical security is also required to be in place:

implementing additional levels of physical access control on important systems alone.

Keeping up with fire prevention and safety procedures.

protecting the building’s structural soundness in the event of natural disasters.

Providing protection against utilities (such heating or air-conditioning systems), which may create faults if they are not functioning properly.

Using Automation

The use of manual key management is not only a procedure that is time demanding, but it also leads to the chance of mistakes, which is a concern that must be considered when dealing with big businesses and its scalability aspect. Making use of automation is a brilliant strategy for successfully managing this. For instance, adopting a technique that makes use of automation to produce, rotate, and renew keys at predetermined intervals might be a very excellent habit to get into.

Logs of Access and Audit Requests

Only those people who absolutely need access to the encryption keys should be able to use them. This may be specified inside the centralised procedure for managing keys in such a way that it permits access to be granted only to those who have been approved. It is essential that there is not a single person who has exclusive access to the key, since this might lead to complications in the event that the user should lose their credentials or the information were to get damaged in some way.

In addition, audit logs are an additional component that is essential to encryption key management. The history of each key, including its creation, deletion, and use, must be recorded in logs in excruciating detail. It is important that all actions relating to such keys be documented, including information about their activity, what accessed them, and when they accessed the relevant key. This is a smart practise that satisfies two objectives at once: the first need is to ensure compliance, and the second need is to facilitate inquiry in the event that any key is lost or stolen. In addition, the reporting and analysis of their findings at regular intervals is a useful practise.

Backup Capabilities

If you lose the key to your encryption programme, the data it protects will be permanently lost and cannot be retrieved under any circumstances. As a result, it is essential to have a reliable key backup facility. This guarantees that keys will always be available when they are needed.

In this context, one more thing to keep in mind is that in order to guarantee the safety of the backed-up keys, it is necessary to encrypt them using the appropriate encryption standards.

The Management of the Encryption Key Life Cycle

Every encryption key has a finite amount of use. It is essential that the key’s operational life cycle be handled effectively in accordance with the stages that are outlined below.

The production of keys

It is necessary for the key that is created to have a very high degree of unpredictability. Using a reliable NIST verified random number generator is always recommended.

The Changing of the Keys

When encryption keys are about to expire or are being changed, businesses often run into an inconvenient problem that may be difficult to resolve. When this occurs, it is imperative to decrypt all of the data, followed by its re-encryption.

On the other hand, making use of a key profile for each and every piece of encrypted data or file might be advantageous. A person is able to determine the encryption resources necessary for the decryption of the database by using the key profile. The encryption procedure is handled by the key profile whenever the keys’ validity period is up and a new key is required. It identifies the real key for the data that is already there.

Retirement of important

When a key is no longer required, it should be removed from the system in an irreversible manner. It safeguards the system by minimising the use of keys that are not being used.

Incorporation of Third Parties

It is inevitable that organisations will employ equipment from the outside. In order to carry out their respective roles, they will be dispersed around the network. On the other hand, such devices often have a reduced level of interaction with databases. Therefore, in order to make use of their capabilities, the encryption techniques that are used should have a nature that is consistent with that of the third-party programmes that they communicate with.

SQL injection, cross-site scripting, denial of service, spoofing, and the incorporation of malicious code are among the most significant dangers associated with the use of APIs provided by third parties. Therefore, API security might be a significant obstacle. API Management Platforms have the potential to provide us with some respite in this precarious scenario. These systems provide tools (APIs) for monitoring, analytics, alerting, and life-cycle management to guarantee the safety and security of your company. Google Apigee, IBM API Connect, Amazon API Gateway, and Microsoft Azure API Gateway are just a few of the most well-known API management technologies.

The idea of the Least Privilege Principle

According to the concept of least privilege, businesses should only provide administrative privileges to employees based on the roles they play for the company’s customers. This restricts the administrative permissions that may be granted to programmes, which in turn lowers the risk of attack from both internal and external sources. One may reduce the likelihood of anything potentially damaging happening by restricting access and using a control strategy that is based on roles.

This idea of least privilege applies to all linked software programmes, operating systems, devices, and other technologies that are not used by humans. It is very necessary to have a management and control system that is centralised if one want to properly execute the concept of least privilege. The “privilege creep” will be mitigated thanks to the centralised privilege management system, which will also guarantee a minimum degree of access to human and non-human entities.

The Expiration of the Keys

Any organisation must have the capacity to revoke and terminate keys in order to function properly. This is especially relevant in the event that data is corrupted, since it prevents unauthorised users from gaining access to critical information by eliminating the potential that they may have the necessary keys.

Conclusion

An encryption system that is both effective and centralised. An company that implements a Key Management System is able to significantly cut risk, boost performance, and guarantee compliance with relevant regulations. Even though there are a number of different ways to put together a solution that is tailor-made for a business, the solution that is chosen should be one that is appropriate for both the present and the future of the company. I have faith that reading this post will assist you in comprehending the most effective procedures and discovering new stuff.

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