Unveiling Keys and Key Management
With the rise of cyberattacks, reliance on password protection and two-factor authentication alone is no longer enough when it comes to the safety of your sensitive information. Data should also be stored in an encrypted form – unusable and unreadable unless unlocked by the authorized user. That’s why encryption, keys and key management are at the top of the list for protection and security.
Encryption is a process that scrambles data using encryption keys so that it cannot be read. Encryption keys are a critical input to the encryption process. In order to decrypt the data back into a readable form, both the encryption key and the algorithm (the encryption technique) must be known. Encryption keys should be complex and secure in order to protect the data encrypted with them.
That’s where Key and Key Management comes in. Depending on your level of security needed, there are plenty of options for you and your company. But let’s dive more into what they are and how they can be helpful.
What Are Encryption Keys?
Encryption keys, also known as Cryptographic keys, are a vital part of any security system. They are specifically created to scramble and unscramble data. Keys are often composed of several pieces of information, such as a passphrase, hardware characteristics, and an encryption technique, also known as an algorithm. Keys should be designed to ensure that each is not only unique but unpredictable. The longer the key, the harder it is to crack. However, there is a balance between key length and performance. Extremely long keys can slow down the encryption and decryption processes.
There are two types of keys that are used in encryption: symmetric keys and asymmetric keys.
- Symmetric key encryption uses a single key for both encryption and decryption and it is typically utilized to handle large amounts of data efficiently.
- Asymmetric or public/private key encryption uses a pair of keys. With this form of encryption, the public key is used to encrypt while the private key decrypts the data.
This discussion will focus primarily on symmetric key encryption. Typically, encryption keys are themselves stored in heavily encrypted files or storage devices away from the protected data. They can be stored locally or on a protected network location. Data owners have the ability to change keys at any time as business policy dictates. A commonly used method includes storing an encrypted version of the key on a local drive or on a network device.
What is Key Management?
Key management in cryptography is the creation, storage, exchange, and deletion of encryption keys. Key Management can be as simple as one key stored in a single location. Or it can be more complex where multiple keys are stored in a Key Management System.
A Key Management System (KMS) is a centralized hub that protects, manages, and handles the administration and overall lifecycle of your cryptographic keys. This includes key generation, exchange, use, integrity, availability, storage, backup or archive, revocation, and destruction.
An organization’s ability to share sensitive and confidential files, while still meeting security requirements, are enhanced by key management solutions. Key management solutions allow you to manage the content and lifecycle of your keys in one place, as well as who accesses and maintains your hub.
Why Are Keys and Key Management Important?
Key management is just as important as implementing strong encryption on your devices, and it is often the piece that is overlooked. It can be the weak link in data security and privacy programs. Key management systems provide an extra layer of protection over your encryption keys by storing the keys securely, but also managing who has access to them and on which devices so that only authorized users are able to decrypt sensitive data in the places they are allowed to decrypt them. It also ensures integrity by preventing unauthorized changes or tampering from other users. Key management systems can help you quickly and easily comply with standards and regulations that are set by industry standards, such as PCI DSS and HIPAA.
Key management solutions can also help ensure that encrypted data is available through key recovery methods in case of loss or damage. By protecting the encryption keys, you help reduce the risk of security incidents like data breaches.
Keys and Key Management Best Practices
As with all encryption, there are several best practices to keep in mind to ensure the utmost security.
- Centralized Key Management
Key management should have an established centralized repository for storing and managing the keys. It is important that these repositories and keys have appropriate security controls created to protect it.
- Key Storage
The recommended approach for securely storing an encryption key involves using encrypted repositories, such as encrypted databases or hardware security modules. When implemented this will limit who can access the keys.
- Distribution of Keys
The secure transmission of keys between two parties, also known as distribution, is a crucial step in establishing secure communication. It prevents eavesdropping and tampering of messages thereby enhancing security.
- Monitoring of Keys
By monitoring the usage of encryption keys, it is possible to notify administrators of possible security incidents, like attempts to gain unauthorized access or use of the keys, to identify potential data breaches early on. This can ultimately result in saving a considerable amount of money in the long term.
- Regularly Backup
To guarantee the safety and confidentiality of sensitive data and minimize the possibility of security breaches and other incidents, it is crucial for organizations to consistently back up encryption keys and store them in a secure location, making sure they are retrievable if they are lost or damaged.
By implementing these recommended procedures for key management, organizations can safeguard the security and privacy of their sensitive information, thereby decreasing the likelihood of security breaches and other incidents.
Your Key Management Solution: Encryptionizer Key Manager (EKM)
NetLib Security’s Encryptionizer Key Manager (EKM) brings the Encryptionizer solution to an entirely new level. It allows you to easily administer encryption from a central location while providing powerful centralized key management. EKM allows organizations of all sizes to configure and control their encryption needs across the enterprise no matter where they reside geographically across physical, virtual or cloud environments.
EKM simplifies key management as a whole while making your data even more secure. This feature enables centralized management, storage, and archiving of keys, which can be utilized and shared across various systems.
Some key features of Encryptionizer Key Manager:
- Easy-to-deploy and configure
- Centralized encryption keys
- Centralized management
- Simpler key rollover
- Intuitive point-and-click interface
About NetLib Security
NetLib Security has spent the past 20+ years developing a powerful, patented solution that starts by setting up a formidable offense for every environment where your data resides: physical, virtual and cloud. Our platform simplifies the process while ensuring high levels of security.
Simplify your data security needs. Encryptionizer is easy to deploy. It is a cost-effective way to proactively and transparently protect your sensitive data that allows you to quickly and confidently meet your security requirements. With budget considerations in mind, we have designed an affordable data security platform that protects, manages, and defends your data, while responding to the ever changing compliance requirements.
Data breaches are expensive. Security does not have to be.
NetLib Security works with government agencies, healthcare organizations, small to large enterprises, financial services, credit card processors, distributors, and resellers to provide a flexible data security solution that meets their evolving needs. To learn more or request a free evaluation visit us at www.netlibsecurity.com.