Enhance digital security by automating certificate management with CLMaaS in AWS Marketplace
Cryptography and digital certificates are the security backbone of modern digital enterprises. An automated certificate lifecycle management (CLM) solution helps you efficiently manage your certificates, and, in turn, bolster your security posture.
Digital transformation, cloud migration, remote work, and Internet of Things (IoT) create growth opportunities for organizations. However, they also bring security challenges of their own. As data and resources move online, the attack surface widens, and the threat vectors increase.
Keeping data and resources safe in distributed, perimeterless environments depends on how safe your machine-to-machine communications are. This is where digital certificates come into play. They help authenticate machines on your network to trust them with network access and encrypt their communications for secure data transmission.
Given the number of physical and virtual machines connected to the internet today, authentication and encryption are a must for securing communications and preventing data breaches. As digital certificates are the engine that brings authentication and encryption together and makes them work, certificates form an important part of the overall cybersecurity strategy. They must be well-managed and well-protected.
In this blog post, I will show how AppViewX CLM as a Service (CLMaaS) can help you gain visibility of your certificate infrastructure and streamline CLM processes for robust digital security.
The growing need for efficient certificate lifecycle management
Manually managing the lifecycle and security for a high volume of certificates can be challenging.
Manual certificate management brings several challenges such as:
- Lack of visibility of certificates
- Lack of a centralized management system
- Low agility and high manual effort
- Human errors and misconfigurations
- Lack of insight into crypto standards
- Lack of scalability
- Certificate and key noncompliance
When digital certificates are not managed efficiently, controlling access to machines and securing machine-to-machine communications suffers. This, in turn, can lead to application outages and a weak security posture.
Simplify certificate management and improve your security posture with CLMaaS
AppViewX CLMaaS is a turnkey solution that helps discover, monitor, analyze, orchestrate, and fully automate certificate lifecycle management and key management solutions across hybrid cloud environments. It is built to address both operational and security issues of certificate management through automation and, in turn, help eliminate outages and data breaches.
In this blog post, I will show how you can discover certificates deployed in your AWS account, review their security posture and expiry timeline, and automate the renewal and provisioning of certificates with AppViewX CLMaaS.
- To start using AppViewX CLMaaS, go to the AppViewX product detail page in AWS Marketplace, where you’ll find the product overview, pricing and usage information, and support information. You can get AppViewX as a Private Offer; to discuss a Private Offer, just sign up for the 30-day free trial.
- Complete the subscription process and complete the signup form you are redirected to afterwards.
- Once the signup process is complete, you will get an email with login instructions. The AppViewX customer success team will also help you with initial onboarding.
- Once your account is onboarded, follow the solution walkthrough to streamline your certificate management process and step up digital security for your application communication.
Solution walkthrough: Stepping up digital security by automating certificate management with CLMaaS
1. Connecting AppViewX CLMaaS to AWS
- Sign in to your CLMaaS account using the link and credentials provided in the email during the signup process.
- At the top left corner of the console, locate the Start menu and choose Inventory.
- Choose the Device option. On the device inventory page, go to the Cloud tab. In the upper right, choose the plus (+) sign.
- On the cloud addition page, enter your AWS account details, including your account type, name, number, region, and your credentials, including your access key ID and secret access key.
2. Certificate discovery and inventory
Scroll down to the Discover Resources section. AWS resources and their associated certificates are discovered based on the inputs you provide in this section of the form.
Consider the following recommendation for the selection on Auto Discovery mode:
- If your enterprise uses AWS Organizations for account management and provisioning purposes, I recommend you choose the option Organization Based Discovery in the Auto Discovery mode. With the Organization-based discovery method, along with the existing list of accounts, all the new accounts will be dynamically discovered during the periodic sync and loaded to the AppViewX Cloud inventory.
- Choose the IAM Policy Based Discovery option in the scenario where most of the AWS account types in your enterprise are standalone. In that case, choose one of the accounts as master account and manually update the IAM User/Group policy in the master account to allow the User or the Group to add new accounts to AppViewX Inventory. Provide the credentials of the User/Group to AppViewX.
For the purposes of this walkthrough, I chose:
- IAM Policy Based Discovery in the Auto Discovery Mode
- All the Services available under Service [Amazon EC2, Elastic Load Balancing, and AWS Certificate Manager]
- US East and US West from the Region drop down
- Managed in the Cert Sync drop down
To update the information and run discovery, choose Save.
Upon providing these inputs to AppViewX and submitting the form, AWS accounts will be discovered using the preferred choice. Following this, resource discovery calls will be initiated to all the discovered AWS accounts in the Regions selected by the user for discovering resources such as Elastic Load Balancing, and Amazon EC2.
For each discovered resource, AppViewX will attempt to identify and add all the certificates associated with it to the AppViewX Certificate Inventory for certificate lifecycle management and the resource, such as Amazon EC2 will be added to the Server Inventory for resource tracking and management.
3. Policy creation
After certificates have been added to your inventory, you must standardize certificate lifecycle management processes and maintain compliance by defining policies.
In the AppviewX inventory, certificates are first cateogirzed into various Certificate Groups, which are then placed under different Certificate Authority (CA) Policies, defined for individual Certificate Authorities.
AppViewX requires two types of policies to be created for role-based access control (RBAC), selecting Renewal/Push method, and compliance enforcement.
The two types of policies are Certificate Authority (CA) Policy and Group Policy.
To create these policies, follow these steps:
Creating CA Policy:
- To create policies for each certificate authority (CA) that you use in your organization, in the AppviewX console left menu under Groups & Policies, select CA Policy.
- Select the Certificate Authority you want to create a policy for.
- Enter the policy details. I opted for more secure security standards by choosing the SHA-2 hashing algorithm, and longer key size.
- At the bottom of the page, enable the Perform Compliance Check toggle button.
- Next, choose Create Policy, and you see the new policy added to the list.
Creating Group Policy:
- To create groups for each type of certificate and assign a policy to the group, in the Appview X console left menu panel under Groups & Policies, select On the right of the top menu bar, choose the + Create button.
- On the Group details page, choose a Group Hierarchy from the drop down list. I opted for Default and provided AWS-CA as input for the Group name field.
- To assign a policy to the group you are going to create, choose the associated CA policy from the dropdown. A single CA policy may be assigned to multiple groups.
- Choose Create. The new group is added to the list.
- On the Group creation page, for automatic certificate renewals and provisioning, always enable the Renew Automatically and Push Certificate Automatically
- To map certificates to a particular group, from the left menu panel, choose the Certificate Inventory You can see all the certificates listed on this page.
- To select the certificates you want to add to the group, on the upper left side of the page, choose the Groups This offers a dropdown of all the groups you have created. Choose the appropriate group to assign to the selected certificates.
4. Holistic visibility and analytics
To gain a view of all your certificates, on the AppviewX console left menu panel, choose the Dashboard option. You can see consolidated reports of all your certificates. You can analyze them for impending expiry and security issues.
To view the list of certificates that are not compliant with the defined policies, choose the Policy Compliance Report on the dashboard, select the pie chart. The list displays the certificates that do not adhere to the policy, along with noncompliant parameters.
5. Enhancing the security standard of your certificates
For enhancing security standard of your certificates, update security settings in the CA Policy page and renew the certificates. The renewed certificates then automatically follow the new and enhanced security standards defined in the policy. To renew certificates, do the following:
- From the left menu panel, choose Certificate Inventory. Select the certificates you want to renew immediately. Continue to the Actions dropdown menu in the upper right side on the menu bar. Select Renew Certificate.
- On the pop-up screen, choose either Now or Set auto-renew options for Renew Selected Certificate (s). In my case, the security upgrade is not time-critical, so I don’t trigger the renewal manually. AppViewX will automatically renew my certificates as their scheduled renewal time approaches.
In this blog post, I showed how to use AppView CLMaaS to programmatically implement certificate lifecycle management.
With AppViewX CLMaaS, you can automate certificate management end-to-end, build visibility, save time and costs, and, more importantly, secure machine-to-machine communications.
I showed you how you can easily discover certificates in your large infrastructure across multiple AWS accounts. I also showed how to get useful information on certificate expiry, crypto standards, and policy compliance as well as how to automate certificate renewals and provisioning.
The content and opinions in this post are those of the third-party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.
About the author
Krupa Patil is a product marketer at AppViewX. She is focused on creating informative and useful content on machine identity management and cybersecurity.