What Is Automated Certificate Management? The Must-Know Fundamentals

Automated certificated management, otherwise known as machine identity management, automatically monitors, executes, and facilitates every SSL certificate process across your enterprise. Despite the need to better manage digital identities becoming an urgent issue, some organizations still lag behind manual processes. 

Automation aims to bring clarity, speed, and accuracy into the process of renewing, installing, revoking, and circulating digital certificates.

Why is Automation Important?

The most feared repercussion of manual certificate management is unexpected certificate expiry. When that happens, applications experience significant downtime, and browser warnings become the order of the day. That’s the last thing customers want to see when scouring around or clicking on your site.

If you renew your certificates on time with the help of a certificate manager, you can steer clear of these dreaded outages. As many as 78% of companies worldwide still face unplanned, unnecessary disruption risks for critical applications. You’ll no longer be part of this unpleasant statistic.

On top of that, embracing automated certificate lifecycle management is crucial because:

  • It puts a stop to manual-intensive efforts: The truth is that spreadsheet-based lifecycle tracking is quite time-consuming and error-prone. Automation allows you to rise above these pesky challenges by seamlessly locating every certificate on the network and notifying teams on expiry dates and irregularities. 
  • It makes certification installation a breeze: You’ve probably learned that the CSR generation process is hard work. All that back-and-forth with the CA isn’t the best use of your time. A certificate manager does that for you, so you never have to.
  • It puts you in the good graces of compliance authorities: One thing that automation does excellently is build centralized visibility of your certificate inventory. Crucial certificate details are pulled under one roof and away from chaos. While this aids significantly in monitoring expiry status, it also helps assess crypto standards and upgrade certificates to the most recent protocols. You need that level of insight to avoid non-compliance and security hurdles.
  • It saves you money: A certificate manager is a single, do-it-all solution that doesn’t require investing in additional PKI hardware or security professionals. That’s a big plus from a cost perspective.

The Benefits and Challenges of Automation

The benefits of automated certificate management are crystal clear: prevention of application outages, easy compliance, massive cost savings, and better lifecycle visibility.

On the flip side, there are notable challenges. When putting the automation strategy into motion, keep these possibilities in mind:

  • Initial setup complexity: Organizations with diverse IT environments might find the setup process quite challenging.
  • Integration with legacy systems: Legacy systems or older infrastructure might not have built-in support for automation. Or, they might require additional workarounds to implement automated certificate management.
  • Security concerns: With a new system comes new attack vectors. While automation can strengthen security, unauthorized access can have crippling consequences.

Addressing these challenges requires careful planning, ongoing monitoring, and a flexible approach to automation implementation.

How to Select the Right Automation Tools

Having grasped the capabilities and challenges of automation, the next step is rather straightforward: find the right tool for the job.

To accomplish that, here are a few things to consider:

  • Architecture: Is automation at the very core of the product? Is it a full-fledged SaaS solution?
  • Ease of deployment: Does it integrate with the most popular platforms to easily install user certificates?
  • Dedicated support: What is the level of customer service being offered? Are you guaranteed white glove support from onboarding to continued account services?
  • Visibility: Does it provide complete, unobstructed, end-to-end visibility throughout intricate hybrid multi-cloud infrastructures (Azure, AWS, and the like)? What about cloud-native Kubernetes cloud environments?

Only a tiny fraction of the certificate management tools tick these boxes. Sectigo, for example, combines the best automation, security, insights, flexibility, and support to meet all enterprise PKI needs.

It Is Now or Never

Whether to automate or not to automate, that’s the question. But if this article is anything to go by, the answer is indisputable: automate now! Any modern enterprise that fails to automate its certificate process lays the red carpet for outages, cybercriminals, and high customer churn. You can do better. With the right approach and automation tool in your corner, nothing can stop you from becoming a truly secure, efficient, and profitable business.

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