Public Key Infrastructures (PKIs), especially legacy PKIs like Microsoft’s Active Directory Certificate Service (ADCS), are becoming too much for teams to maintain.
PKI teams have fewer staff members and lack the needed expertise. Expenses for maintaining internal systems are rising. Plus, digital transformation has inspired an overwhelming growth in the number and complexity of machines used across a modern enterprise.
That means PKI requests are skyrocketing, leaving even the most seasoned, dedicated professionals scratching their heads—not to mention burning the candle at both ends.
PKI provides the foundation for your organization’s machine identity management, but legacy PKI solutions just can’t handle today’s influx of business app and service requests—and they could be costing your team in ways you haven’t considered.
What are the hidden costs of legacy PKI systems?
There are several hidden costs associated with your legacy PKI solution.
The cost of legacy PKI lagging behind today’s business demands
Legacy PKIs are expiring and must be refreshed on unforgiving deadlines. Otherwise, your organization may fall behind on competitive advantages and jeopardize revenue. That’s largely because solutions designed 10-20 years ago are falling behind today’s business demands. However, if your team doesn’t keep up with PKI updates, you face an increased likelihood for downtime and system outages. And you won’t be able to prepare for the eventualities of a post-quantum world[KH1] , where current encryption standards aren’t enough.
The cost of keeping up with new PKI requirements
Like any industry, PKI design has best practices—and they should be treated like law. But keeping up isn’t just difficult, it may be impossible. Yet, overlook just one and you could be stuck with an application outage triggered by an expired certificate.
But for most PKI teams, these practices are impossible to keep up with, let alone enforce. PCI DSS, SCEP, NIST and ISO all have their own PKI requirements, and a haphazard approach to building your PKI can further increase your risk of outages and compromise.
The cost of lacking PKI visibility and unclear ownership
Many organizations admit to not having clear visibility of their PKI-dependent applications, including network authentication, VPNs, device authentication and email.
However, what can’t be seen can’t be kept secure. Not only will you risk outage or compromise, without visibility you’ll face an upward climb in diagnosis and remediation. And, after all, time is money.
Furthermore, many teams don’t have dedicated PKI ownership, so they can’t standardize their approach to managing it.
The cost of little or no PKI expertise
PKI is an increasingly complex subject, and the unique skillset needed to manage it comes at a high cost. IT and security personnel retention is already difficult enough, so many teams that ordinarily wouldn’t touch PKI are doing just that, instead of handling other high-benefit projects they were hired for.
This dearth of PKI-specific administration can result in a significant drain on resources, as the average certificate and private key requires four hours to manage annually.
Even more troubling is that the teams managing PKI are often out of their depth. In one case, a company tasked data entry staff with managing PKI, because one clerk claimed to have “an interest in security.”
Think about that. This company left the very foundation of their business security in the hands of someone who wasn’t trained in PKI best practices. And when you entrust something this important to people who don’t understand it, the potential for mistakes, misconfigurations and misuse becomes endless.
The cost of pronounced vulnerabilities in legacy PKI solutions
Legacy PKI solutions fall short in protecting your business, and for several reasons. Some are operational. Some are security focused.
Legacy PKI solutions are hard pressed to support new business applications focused on security, convenience and scalability. Take MFA, for instance. Many PKIs have been slow to combat the threat of unsecured passwords because organizations don’t want to add even more complexity on top of an already convoluted infrastructure, thereby forgoing MFA’s additional, yet critical, level of authorization.
Another example is the need for rapid batch replacement. If certificate authorities are compromised or an encryption algorithm is broken, organizations must replace all their keys and certificates in a matter of hours. Legacy PKIs can’t complete this process quickly due to their lack of crypto agility.
The cost of additional equipment for managing legacy PKI
If you’re managing your own PKI, you’re also paying for additional servers, HSMs and load balancers, not to mention ongoing support for those assets.
Plus, you have to make constant, laborious deployment and configuration decisions, all of which eat up time and money.
The cost of lackluster PKI scalability
As your company introduces microservices, containerization and DevOps, you’re increasing the number of machine-to-machine connections that need to be managed and protected.
Extending authentication to cloud native environments magnifies complexity and increases the risk for further misconfiguration. This can hinder the rollout of new projects and initiatives because your legacy PKI doesn’t have the ability to deploy and manage the required encryption for those new apps and services.
Break away from complex legacy PKI with a modern, SaaS-based solution
The harder you look, the more the hidden costs of legacy PKI seem to add up. That’s why many organizations are migrating to scalable, secure and effortless SaaS-based PKI.
Venafi Zero Touch PKI, a truly hassle-free solution, requires zero software updates, zero configurations, zero HSMs and absolutely zero worries. It eliminates the need for internal PKI staff, and getting started takes no time at all.
Want to learn more? Check out “Are you working for your PKI? Or is it working for you?”
In this discussion, our top PKI experts discuss why many companies like yours are moving away from ineffective PKI solutions and toward a modern, SaaS-based solution—all without lifting a finger.