27 September 2023
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.
Before diving into real-world implementations, it's important to understand what TLS and PKI are and how they work together:
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.
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:
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.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) leverage TLS to build secure "tunnels" for remote access to company resources. PKI provides strong authentication:
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.
Internet of Things (IoT) devices like sensors, cameras, and controls are increasingly deployed in corporate environments. TLS secures data communications:
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.
Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (S/MIME) brings PKI-based encryption and signing to email. S/MIME certificates issued to employees are used for:
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.
To maximize the security value of TLS and PKI, follow these best practices:
Proper deployment requires involvement across security, infrastructure, development, and compliance teams.
To gain in-depth knowledge on designing, deploying, and managing robust TLS and PKI solutions, consider enrolling in a dedicated training course.
With in-depth knowledge from training, you can confidently implement TLS and PKI to protect your organization.
TLS and PKI will continue evolving as quantum computing and new attack vectors emerge. Upcoming changes include:
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.
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:
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.
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