On-Premise PKI & Cloud-Based PKIaaS Graphic

On-Premise PKI vs. Cloud-Based PKIaaS: What Enterprises Should Know

Public key infrastructure (PKI) is the industry standard for providing strong and convenient security for passwordless authentication and data. PKI has been extensively battle-tested, and it’s central to how businesses authenticate their users or devices and protect their data, applications and systems. Digital transformation is driving the enterprise transition to cloud-based products, and PKI is no exception.

Increasingly, we’re seeing companies move to a cloud-first, PKI-as-a-service (PKIaaS) approach. It’s worth exploring this trend, and how it can help you deploy PKI in a fast, easy and cost effective way.

The Need for Strong PKI Has Never Been Greater

Hackers are becoming more sophisticated, and the increasing use of network, mobile and IoT devices is significantly expanding the attack surface. As a pillar of cybersecurity, PKI must be implemented and managed correctly to reduce the risk. We worked with the experts at Dark Reading to understand how this was impacting CISOs and other security experts. We learned that:

  • 70% say that their cybersecurity staff are stretched too thin
  • 49% say the complexity of the security environment is their biggest challenge
  • 40% expect that security challenges will become a lot harder in the near future, even though budgets and staff will remain the same
  • 39% have made remote access the top cybersecurity priority

The Risks of Managing PKI on Your Own

PKI systems are one of the most important aspects of cybersecurity, so they need to be hardened and secured properly. It’s a real burden for a lot of organizations to manage PKI in-house in compliance with security requirements. It also requires specialized staff and hardware systems. As devices are proliferated within enterprises, the challenges to deploy, manage and scale PKI grow significantly.

Some of the risks and limitations of in-house management include:

  • Significant upfront investment in PKI infrastructure and licensing fees, resulting in budgeting or strategy constraints
  • The need to update infrastructure to include new uses cases as security needs evolve
  • Ongoing maintenance and compliance costs that affect the bottom line
  • Delays to making important updates to patch vulnerabilities, increasing the likelihood of a successful attack

You don’t want these limitations to compromise the security of your business.

What to Consider When Deciding Between On-Premise PKI and Cloud-Based PKIaaS

There are three main areas to consider when deciding on the right PKI solution.

Operational Efficiency

Your PKI service should give you fast and easy-to-deploy certificates to your networks, devices and users in a convenient, user-focused way that:

  • Includes different types of digital certificates and providers that align with device, user and business needs
  • Controls budgets and reduce costs for PKI operations and projects
  • Integrates with business cases and projects for rapid development and iteration

Robust Compliance

Meeting internal and external standards and regulations is essential to:

  • Ensure your PKI solution remains fully compliant with standards and regulations
  • Allow fine-tuned policies and protocols to implement robust access controls
  • Use of a “Zero Trust” baseline that only allows access to assets through robust security permissions tied to individuals, job roles, devices and processes
  • Automatically implement industry-leading best practices for PKI to stay ahead of potential attackers and breaches
  • Stay up to date with the latest security findings to ensure a strong, robust platform with minimum vulnerabilities

Technical Architecture

A constantly updated, best-in-class architecture provides a strong foundation that allows organizations to:

  • Scale quickly to adapt to changing business needs with no impact on the user experience
  • Integrate with multiple other networks, systems and applications for a consistent approach to PKI
  • Maximize platform agility to reduce the burden of expanding the technology footprint

HID PKI-as-a-Service

HID Global focuses on helping companies achieve industry best practices, while reducing operating complexity and costs. Our cloud-based, PKIaaS offering allows organizations to obtain authentication and encryption services on-demand, in real-time. A simple subscription model eliminates financial and operational barriers that start-ups and Fortune 500 companies alike face in creating and deploying and managing PKI based encryption and authentication.

Want a deeper insight into how PKIaaS can help your business? Read our eBook, Outsourcing PKI to the Cloud.

Mrugesh Chandarana is Product Management Director for Identity and Access Management Solutions at HID Global, where he focuses on IoT and PKI solutions. He has more than ten years of cybersecurity industry experience in areas such as risk management, threat and vulnerability management, application security and PKI. He has held product management positions at RiskSense, WhiteHat Security (acquired by NTT Security), and RiskVision (acquired by Resolver, Inc.).