The world has become dependent on data encryption to protect digital assets and communication. It is also becoming more vulnerable because of its dependence on computers which are not impenetrable.
As cyber-attacks increase in frequency and complexity, there has never been greater importance or challenge than protecting your cryptographic keys so that you can continue to encrypt all of your most important information safely. A single compromised key could result in a massive data breach, resulting in reputational damage, punitive regulatory fines, and a loss of investor and customer trust.
At various technology events in Vegas, professionals have pointed out the importance of cryptographic keys as company assets, how they can be compromised, and how you can protect them better, lowering corporate risk and strengthening your company’s cyber-security posture.
As a result, upcoming tech events will focus on how modern businesses can safeguard electronic communications and financial transactions, protect sensitive data privacy, and enable secure authentication and authorization. New regulations, commercial pressure for digital transformation, cloud adoption, and the latest trends in IoT and blockchain/DLT all contribute to the need to embed cryptography into virtually every application, from toasters to core banking systems!
Modern cryptographic algorithms are relatively resilient to attack; their only vulnerable point is their keys. However, if a key has been compromised, it’s game over for you!
Three kinds of keys must be kept safe and secure:
Symmetric keys are commonly used to encrypt large amounts of data using symmetric algorithms, and anyone with a secret key can decrypt the data.
Private keys are the secret half of public/private key pairs used in public-key cryptography with asymmetric algorithms.
Hash keys are used with algorithms to ensure the integrity and authenticity of data and transactions.
With an increasing number of keys to protect and a rising value of data protected by those keys. Nearly every business faces this challenge and addresses it as soon as possible.
Due to the many threats that can threaten a vital key, often, you will not even know that your key has been compromised until an attacker is already using it. Thus these threats are much more dangerous than they initially seem.
The following are some of the significant threats to consider:
A key is simply a random number; the longer and more random it is, the more difficult it is to crack. The key should be sufficiently long for its intended purpose. It should be generated by a high-quality (ideally certified) random number generator (RNG), ideally collecting entropy from a suitable hardware noise source. There have been numerous cases where poor RNG implementation has resulted in critical vulnerabilities.
Incorrect Key Usage
Every key should be generated only for one specific application and type of encryption algorithm; otherwise, it may not provide the desired level of security.
Non-Rotation Of Keys
When keys are overused, they become more vulnerable to being hacked. It also means that much sensitive information will be exposed if a security breach occurs. Therefore, keys should constantly be rotated so this doesn’t happen.
Keys Are Not Destroyed
Threats from within (user authentication, dual control, segregation of roles) Insider threats are one of the most severe threats a critical face. If a rogue employee has unrestricted access to a key, they may use it maliciously or pass it on to someone else for the same purpose.
Appropriate Key Storage
Keys should never be stored alongside the data they protect, as any exfiltration of the protected information will likely compromise the key.
Inadequate Key Protection
Even keys stored solely in server memory could be compromised.
Manually Managing Keys
Manual key management processes, which involve using paper or inappropriate tools such as spreadsheets, and are accompanied by manual key ceremonies, can easily result in human errors that often go unnoticed and leave keys vulnerable.
The only way to mitigate these threats effectively is to use a dedicated electronic key management system, preferably a mature, proven solution from a reputable provider with good customer references. Experts at the Internet 2.0 Conference, an upcoming technology conference, will discuss various ways of reducing threats toward crypto keys.
Shivani is one of the team leads at the Internet 2.0 Conference. The upcoming edition of the conference will bring together some of the world’s most famous technology leaders and experts to discuss technical achievements and combat scams and fraud on the internet while focusing heavily on the news involving artificial intelligence, 5G, ML, Robotics, and AR/VR.
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