Why encryption matters in IT security in 2021: 5 encryption trends

The security implication of the current rapid pace of digital transformation is that anything that is considered safe by the current standards will not be secure in the future. Encryption has existed for hundreds of years and is the basis of many everyday activities today, from banking transactions and video streaming to passwords and digital currencies. As encryption and the way it uses and manages evolves, the way we do business now and in the future will continue to change. Many companies have begun to tackle crypto management challenges, but they are not yet fully embracing best practices with crypto-agile.

In terms of network security, 2020 has been a year of growing importance for crypto agility, supporting trusted digital transformation initiatives and serving as the first line of defense against emerging crypto-based security breaches. 

In 2020, many companies, regardless of their will, were forced to quickly push ahead with initiatives to support new remote workforces and distributed networking. In line with this situation, five encryption-related trends that will affect IT and network security and IoT security in 2021 and beyond have been formed.

1. Public key infrastructure as the underlying security tool

Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) has been used by enterprises for decades to protect and manage confidentiality. In recent years, attention has been focused on the capabilities of PKI between development and security, especially in IoT and DevOps environments. PKI, a basic digital ID security tool that has been validated in the real world, has undergone a new transformation thanks to its ability to build a root of trust and its seamless integration with the coding process and development toolkit. The popularity of PKI will continue to grow in the future thanks to the scalability and option of an automated lifecycle management platform.

2. Root CA expiration

When the Root Certificate Authority (CA) expires, the certificates they use will no longer be trusted, potentially leading to device failure. 

This is the case in which a number of connected devices such as smart TVs were stopped due to the expiration of the AddTrust root CA. Root management is performed through software updates, and if this update is not completed in a timely manner, the certificate update will fail. This is why the root repository is usually not managed effectively. If you don't update the legacy route, you won't be able to push the update, which leads to possible device failure. It is only an inconvenient problem for consumer devices, but in machines such as autonomous vehicles and medical devices, it can lead to a human life-threatening scenario. The good news is that the root CA expiration is a timed event and can be anticipated and managed with advance planning.

3. Shorten the life of digital certificates

This year, the lifetime of the certificate has been reduced to 13 months in major browsers. These changes have been in effect since September 2020, but IT managers will not be able to fully appreciate the impact of these changes until 2021, when they are faced with a situation where they have to manage sudden certificate rollovers. 

In particular, teams that do not have the tools or automation to manage this process face great challenges. In many cases, this change means a 100% increase in the team's workload while the budget and staff remain the same. You're already burdened with managing and renewing SSL public root certificates from third-party vendors.

4. Encryption-based exploits and cyberattacks using code signing, SSH keys, and TLS certificates

In general, administrators create their own keys rather than obtaining keys from trusted certification authorities. This tendency creates key misuse and visibility risks. 

SSH keys, TLS certificates, and code signing based attacks are on the rise. The ability to detect such attacks is improving, but the trend line and impact of attacks are expanding. Crypto-based exploits can occur at any layer of the stack. Code signing and SSH keys are used everywhere, so the team in charge cannot easily track where they are located in the enterprise. SSH keys may seem harmless, but if they get into the hands of an attacker, they can be an easy way to gain access to your network.

5. Introduction of new quantum-safe encryption and standards

There is much to be said about the quantum and its implications. Quantum computing is still in its infancy, and it is not fully understood how quantum scalable architectures can exploit algorithms designed by people. 

Regulatory agencies such as the US government and NIST are working on draft standards that can be extended and applied across the industry. Quantum safe cryptography will come in due time, but, as with all major industrial changes, it will take a long time for customers and end-users to notice the impact. 

While the predictions described so far will all require time, attention, and investment, the key to remember is to inventory your organization's digital identities (keys and certificates) and prepare encryption best practices for application across your IT infrastructure. A unified plan for doing this should be established.

Post a Comment