Public Key Infrastructures (PKIs) have long been the backbone of cybersecurity for organizations worldwide. However, as the digital landscape evolves at breakneck speed, legacy PKIs, such as Microsoft's Active Directory Certificate Service (ADCS), are struggling to keep up with the demands of modern cybersecurity. In many senses, the tables have flipped. And PKIs that were once working to support enterprise-wide security now require more work than the benefits they offer.
In this blog, we explore the critical reasons why organizations should consider migrating to a PKI-as-a-service (PKIaaS) solution.
The challenge of legacy PKI
Legacy PKIs have been effective tools for ensuring cybersecurity over the years. But as technology continues to rapidly evolve, legacy PKIs have not matched the pace. And they are being left in the dust. So many organizations are left with legacy PKIs with significant challenges that hamper their utility in today's dynamic business environment. A study by the Ponemon Institute highlighted some of the most pressing issues organizations face with their legacy PKIs:
- Resource Constraints: 64% of respondents cited insufficient resources as a major challenge in enabling applications to use PKI effectively.
- Lack of Ownership and Visibility: 52% admitted to a lack of clear ownership and poor visibility into applications dependent on PKI, leading to confusion.
- Skills Gap: 52% reported that insufficient skills in PKI implementation were a significant challenge, making it difficult to manage PKIs effectively.
These challenges result in a drain on staffing resources and budgets, leading organizations to rely on unqualified personnel for PKI administration, introducing unnecessary risks.
Hidden costs of legacy PKI
One of the common misconceptions about legacy PKIs is that they are cost-effective since they are bundled with operating systems. However, operating Microsoft ADCS involves various unanticipated costs, including software licenses, hardware, maintenance and support, administration, training, security measures, backup and disaster recovery, power and cooling, and integration with other applications or services.
Large-scale legacy PKI implementations can cost organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars in hardware alone, not to mention ongoing maintenance and security expenses. These hidden costs often catch organizations off guard.
Legacy PKIs tend to start small and manageable but grow complex over time. Given this uncontrolled growth, legacy PKIs can become prone to misconfiguration and permissioning errors, which pose significant security risks. Additionally, legacy PKIs struggle to keep up with the increasing demand for certificates, especially with the advent of microservices, containerization, DevOps toolchains and IoT devices. Scaling up a decades-old legacy PKI is not only costly but also challenging in terms of the effort and expertise that is required.
Maintaining a legacy PKI demands a unique and high-cost skill set that many organizations lack. Security experts with PKI knowledge are scarce, and personnel often struggle to understand and maintain legacy PKIs effectively. This diverts resources away from higher-value initiatives like DevOps, Cloud Native and other critical security projects.
Introducing Zero Touch PKI
Venafi Zero Touch PKI is a modern PKI-as-a-service solution designed to address the shortcomings of legacy PKIs. Here are some key features and benefits:
Truly zero touch
- Provides microservice-based, multi-tenant application designed for ease of use and efficiency
- Offers 99.9% availability for issuance and validation, ensuring reliability.
- Manages all security and operations, eliminating the need for dedicated personnel to manage these tasks
- Handles large-scale deployments, making it easy to scale PKI operations without sacrificing performance or security
- Eliminates the need for extensive design and build phases, saving time and resources.
- Includes assistance by Venafi experts during the onboarding process to ensure PKI configurations follow best practices
- Eliminates the need to maintain private root keys and manage complex infrastructure
- Simplifies PKI management by eliminating the need to design for high availability, server setup, patching and HSM maintenance
- Frees up IT teams to focus on higher-value initiatives and security needs beyond infrastructure management
Integration and customization
- Offers well-defined interfaces that integrate seamlessly with existing and future technology partners
- Supports important industry-specific mandates and standards, ensuring robustness and compliance
Enterprise-wide trust anchor
- Serves as the trust anchor within the organization's environment, providing security and reliability
- Supports Bring Your Own Root (BYOR) and Bring Your Own CA (BYOCA) for flexible use cases.
Instant, seamless integration with the Venafi Control Plane
- Delivers comprehensive observability, consistency and reliability for machine identities across the enterprise
Legacy PKIs are costly, complex, and ill-suited to the demands of today's cybersecurity landscape. Venafi Zero Touch PKI offers a modern, scalable, and effortless alternative, freeing organizations from the burdens of legacy PKI management. With security, scalability and expertise included, Zero Touch PKI empowers organizations to focus on higher-value cybersecurity initiatives, ensuring their readiness for the challenges of the digital era.