Securing Web Transactions TLS Server Certificate Management

Whatʼs this guide about?

Transport Layer Security (TLS) is the most widely used protocol for securing web transactions and other communications on internal networks and the internet. Some organizations may have tens of thousands of certificates, but many organizations lack a plan to manage them. Organizations that do not have a plan are at higher risk for system outages and security breaches, which can result in:

  • revenue loss
  • harm to reputation or brand
  • loss of privacy
  • exposure of confidential data to attackers
Download the full draft practice guide

The NCCoE at NIST recognizes the vital importance of securing web transactions and other communications between clients and servers for organizations. This project uses commercially available technologies to demonstrate how medium and large enterprises that rely on Transport Layer Security (TLS) can secure both customer-facing and internal applications can better manage TLS server certificates by:

  • Defining operational and security policies; identifying roles and responsibilities
  • Establishing comprehensive certificate inventories and ownership tracking
  • Conducting continuous monitoring of certificate operational and security status
  • Automating certificate management to minimize human error and maximize efficiency on a large scale
  • Enabling rapid migration to new certificates and keys when cryptographic mechanisms are found to be weak, compromised or vulnerable

 In December 2018, the NCCoE released Volumes A and B of this guide to provide enterprises actionable guidance to help them establish and implement a formal TLS server certificate management program. The received comments were adjudicated and integrated into the updated draft versions of Volume A and B. With the release of the full guide, organizations can advance their TLS management efforts by reading Volume C which explains our approach, architecture, and security characteristics, and Volume D which contains the how-to-guides to build the example solutions.

Although client certificates may optionally be used in TLS to perform mutual authentication, managing client certificates is outside this project’s scope

 

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