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Securing Business - How Companies are Leveraging TLS and PKI

27 September 2023

Securing Business - How Companies are Leveraging TLS and PKI

Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) have become essential technologies for securing modern business environments. As threats evolve and regulations tighten, companies must implement robust encryption, authentication, and access control to protect their data, systems, and communications. This article explores how enterprises are utilizing TLS and PKI to harden security across critical areas. As these technologies are being utilised more and more by companies we have provided training across all sectors in our TLS & PKI "in Practice" training course the perfect option should you be looking to train your team or as an individual. 

An Introduction to TLS and PKI

Before diving into real-world implementations, it's important to understand what TLS and PKI are and how they work together:

  • Transport Layer Security (TLS) - Cryptographic protocols used to establish encrypted links between clients and servers. Replaced SSL as the standard for secure internet transmissions.
  • Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) - Framework for authenticating digital identities using public and private key pairs, certificates, and certificate authorities (CAs). Enables trusted information exchange.

TLS relies on PKI for authentication and key exchange during the handshake process. A server certificate issued by a trusted CA validates the server's identity. The client and server then negotiate session keys used to encrypt communications.

This interplay of encryption and identity verification provided by TLS and PKI is crucial for securing business systems and data flows.

Securing Web Applications with HTTPS

The most common application of TLS is enabling HTTPS connections to websites and web applications. HTTPS uses server certificates to create encrypted TLS sessions between visitors' browsers and the web server:

Insights into HTTPS-Only Mode – Attack & Defense

Enforcing HTTPS across all web properties ensures sensitive data like logins, payments, and personal information is protected in transit. Mixed content issues where insecure resources are loaded into HTTPS pages can undermine protections.

Web application firewalls (WAFs) like Cloudflare provide managed TLS certificates from trusted CAs to easily enable site-wide HTTPS. Strict Transport Security headers force connections over HTTPS.

Authenticating Remote Access with VPNs

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) leverage TLS to build secure "tunnels" for remote access to company resources. PKI provides strong authentication:

HTTPS Explained

Employees can securely access emails, file shares, intranets, and internal applications through the encrypted VPN tunnel. Client certificates installed on devices provide two-factor authentication.

OpenVPN is a popular open-source VPN solution supporting TLS key exchange for robust security. Major vendors like Cisco also utilize TLS-based protocols.

Securing IoT with TLS

Internet of Things (IoT) devices like sensors, cameras, and controls are increasingly deployed in corporate environments. TLS secures data communications:

Authenticating Users and IoT Devices with Mutual TLS -

Many IoT platforms provide SDKs with TLS libraries like WolfSSL or mbedTLS. Devices authenticate using certificates copied to hardware. This prevents tampering.

TLS encryption protects IoT traffic on networks. Mutual authentication ensures only authorized devices can connect to collectors and gateways.

Enabling Email Security with S/MIME

Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (S/MIME) brings PKI-based encryption and signing to email. S/MIME certificates issued to employees are used for:

  • Email Encryption - Messages can only be decrypted by intended recipient.
  • Email Signing - Bind messages to sender's identity. Validates no tampering.

This prevents sensitive data exposure and phishing attacks impersonating employees.

On Microsoft Exchange or Office 365, enable S/MIME to require all external emails be encrypted and signed. Integrate with internal PKI to distribute employee certificates.

Best Practices for TLS & PKI Deployment

To maximize the security value of TLS and PKI, follow these best practices:

  • Enforce TLS across all internet traffic entering or leaving your network.
  • Issue employee and device certificates from a private root CA you control.
  • Automate certificate lifecycle management including renewal and revocation.
  • Use certificate-pinning between critical servers and services.
  • Adopt TLS 1.3 and forward secrecy for encryption keys.
  • Monitor CA infrastructure health closely.
  • Maintain key backups securely offsite.

Proper deployment requires involvement across security, infrastructure, development, and compliance teams.

Take a TLS and PKI Training Course

To gain in-depth knowledge on designing, deploying, and managing robust TLS and PKI solutions, consider enrolling in a dedicated training course.

JBI Training offers comprehensive TLS and PKI training courses led by expert practitioners. Courses like TLS & PKI "in Practice"  provide skills to:

  • Understand TLS protocols and cryptographic algorithms.
  • Plan and deploy public key infrastructures.
  • Manage certificate lifecycles from issuance to revocation.
  • Secure applications, devices, and communications with certificates.
  • Monitor infrastructure health and troubleshoot issues.

With in-depth knowledge from training, you can confidently implement TLS and PKI to protect your organization.

The Future of TLS and PKI

TLS and PKI will continue evolving as quantum computing and new attack vectors emerge. Upcoming changes include:

  • Transition to quantum-resistant encryption - New post-quantum algos resistant to quantum brute force attacks.
  • Short-lived certificates - Certificates with shorter validity periods to limit exposure if compromised.
  • Increased use of TLS client certificates - For more robust mutual authentication in IoT, VPNs and more.


TLS and PKI provide the vital foundations of security, identity, and trust for business connectivity. As threats and technologies change, following best practices ensures these protocols continue securely enabling critical systems and data transmission in the future. Companies invest now to prepare for the quantum leap.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does TLS use PKI?

TLS relies on PKI for authentication and establishing encrypted sessions. Server certificates signed by a trusted CA allow clients to verify the server's identity during the initial handshake.

What risks does enabling TLS help mitigate?

TLS protects against:

  • Eavesdropping - Encryption prevents spying on network traffic.
  • Man-in-the-middle attacks - Certificate validation detects tampering.
  • Impersonation - Strong mutual authentication ensures valid identities.
What are the benefits of short-lived certificates?

Shorter certificate lifespans limit the damage if a certificate is compromised. Auto renewal improves reliability.

Learn how enterprises are securing infrastructure and data through implementing robust TLS and PKI encryption, identity management, and access control.

you might like to read our article on Going Beyond the Basics with Advanced TLS and PKI Training next 

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