Enterprise processes need to leverage digital systems to operate, especially as more and more devices are becoming connected—and, every connected system needs a certificate to operate security. Administrators have to be able to ensure that there are no unwanted certificates, and handling the processes manually often is not feasible. Specialised management systems help track certificates, notify when certificates are expired/close to expiry, identify unknown certificates and promote better, more secure communication across an organisation’s networks.
Additionally, some of the most damaging security breaches in history were either the result of expired certificates, or were further exacerbated by expired certificates. For example, a 2017 breach of Equifax credit reporting agency went undiscovered for nearly three months, because an expired certificate was preventing proper inspection of network traffic. This compromised the personal information of 147 million people. And Equifax isn’t alone; LinkedIn, Microsoft, Ericsson, and most recently, Google Voice have all suffered by failing to update certificates.
Expired certificates have the potential to either cause unplanned system outages, or to open holes in your digital security through which threat actors can gain access to your network. This can easily lead to disrupted service, reputational damage, exposure of sensitive organisational and customer data, and steep fines and penalties for those businesses who allow their certificates to lapse.
Renewing certificates before they expire is absolutely essential. But with potentially thousands of certificates in play, businesses face the almost insurmountable task of upgrading and renewing certificates with multiple CAs while adhering to pre-planned maintenance windows to prevent interrupting vital services. Perhaps even more problematic is that the certificates themselves lack vital context to help organisations prioritise critical certificates, identify service owners or even determine which certificates are in need of renewal.