Businesses must have websites as customers are increasingly shopping online. And for secure online engagement and transactions, SSL certificates, also known as digital certificates, are essential. Business owners, however, should not consider the job done after the installation of a digital certificate and then forget about it. Certificate management is an integral part of keeping sites secure and encrypted and needs to be continually monitored.
What Is an SSL Certificate?
SSL, short for Secure Sockets Layer, is a security protocol that secures connections between web servers and web browsers. SSL certificates enable encrypted connections and authenticate a website’s identity. When added to websites, they secure online transactions and personal information/data of customers — such as names, addresses, and credit card numbers — and verify ownership of the website, prevent intervention from malicious actors and stop them from creating a fake version of the website, and assures users that the site can be trusted. SSL certificates can be obtained from a trusted certificate authority (CA).
Certificate Lifecycle Management
Certificate management is critical to the online security strategy of businesses. It keeps the communication between web servers and web browsers encrypted and secure, and by doing that, it prevents service disruption.
Just like a driver’s license or passport, digital certificates issued by trusted CAs, too, have a validity period. Website owners must replace or renew them before the expiry date. Certificate lifecycle management helps certificate managers do that on time by enabling them to manage SSL certificates through their entire lifecycle — from acquisition to expiration.
Certificate enrollment, certificate discovery, certificate revocation, and certificate renewal are some of the stages of certificate lifecycle management.
- Certificate Enrollment: Website owners request a trusted CA to provide them with a digital certificate. The CA first verifies the enrollment information and public key provided by owners and then issues the certificate.
- Certificate Discovery: The process involves scanning to locate all public and private SSL certificates on a company’s network. As it makes all certificates visible, the certificate manager can quickly find out invalid or rogue certificates on the network.
- Certificate Revocation: It means invalidating the digital certificate before the end of its validity period. If a certificate gets compromised or lost, it needs to be revoked immediately. Once the certificate manager informs CA that a certificate is no longer trustworthy, it adds it to its certificate revocation list (CRL).
- Certificate Renewal: An SSL certificate may get renewed automatically or by human intervention when it reaches its expiration date.
Use Automated SSL Certificate Management Service
Some business owners still renew or replace SSL certificates manually. It can be a time-consuming and tedious process, especially if there are hundreds of certificates on the company’s network. And with manual certificate management, there is always the risk of forgetting the certificate’s expiry date. Owners may not know when their websites have become vulnerable to malicious attacks, which can result in a data breach. Huge business loss, evaporation of customer trust, and brand erosion are the three main consequences of using the expired SSL certificate. A certificate management system prevents that, as it automates the lifecycles of a digital certificate from a single platform and simplifies the process.
A reliable SSL certificate management system’s timely alerts lead to timely renewal or replacement and prevent outages. In addition to that, it also offers complete transparency and control over the SSL environment.