Organizations relying on encryption within their most mission-critical business systems must take steps to ensure they can address vulnerabilities like the recently reported Debian Linux flaw when – not if – they happen again, according to Venafi, inventor of systems management for encryption. Such preparations should include automating the management of encryption certificates and keys, to enable rapid identification and replacement.
Early last week, Debian announced a flaw that had caused SSL (secure socket layer), SSH (secure shell) and other keys generated on the Linux variant to be dangerously weak. In addition to patching code on the affected systems, organizations must now identify and replace all SSL and SSH keys at risk.
"While this is a challenge for many companies, the Debian Open SSL vulnerability is really a symptom of a much larger problem," said Security Catalyst Michael Santarcangelo, who hosted Venafi vice president Paul Turner as a guest on his podcast this week entitled, "The Right Way to Address the Debian OpenSSL Vulnerability."
"To change the way people protect information, we need to make it easier for people to do their jobs while informing the risk management process," Santarcangelo added. "If a company implemented Systems Management for Encryption from Venafi now, they would be able to solve problems like this Debian issue much cheaper, faster and easier."
How Can Systems Management for Encryption Help?
Systems Management for Encryption is the practice of applying time-tested systems management best practices and techniques — already in use for many other IT operations and security processes — to encryption, and leveraging them horizontally across operating environments. Based on experience working with some of the world's leading organizations, Venafi has developed products that institutionalize these best practices and techniques, delivering an automation platform that enables the application of corporate and regulatory encryption policies in a consistent and repeatable fashion across desktops, network devices, and systems in the datacenter.
With Venafi Systems Management for Encryption, companies can discover SSL certificates across and throughout their entire infrastructure, including those generated by Debian, and automatically replace all certificates at risk. Venafi manages the lifecycle of all certificates and keys, configures the applications that are using them according to organizational policies and constantly monitors and reports on the status of the entire encryption infrastructure. Some samples of the kinds of reports Venafi provides include the following:
- what key strengths and cryptographic algorithms are in use
- which certificates are expired or will expire soon, and
- which certificate authorities are being used to issue certificates
"To keep their information secure, organizations are deploying encryption broadly across their computing environments, and until now, the only way they've been able to control, monitor, maintain and audit the encryption is to do so manually," said Paul Turner, vice president of product and customer solutions, Venafi. "This costly and error-prone manual work has put many companies at risk not only because of the enormous cost of such procedures, but more importantly because they do not have an accurate picture of the keys and certificates that are actually in use throughout their organization–making it difficult to rapidly respond when issues like this Debian issue arise. Leveraging automated tools and processes enables improved operational controls and security and ensures they are prepared to rapidly respond to vulnerabilities and other issues."