Managing Key Lifecycle for Enterprise: A CISO's Story of a Global Bank

ankita rawate fortanix
Ankita Rawate
Published:Sep 21, 2023
Reading Time:4mins
enterprise key lifecycle management

David, a newly appointed Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at a global bank, faced a tough challenge. He had to protect the bank's critical digital information and meet the standard data security regulations. One big task was to showcase that the bank’s critical data remains secure by thoroughly protecting the associated encryption keys.

Let’s look at David's 7-step plan to manage encryption keys across different departments.

key lifecycle management for enterprise

Enterprise Key Lifecycle Management Steps

Step 1 – Generation

David knew that robust cryptographic keys are foundational to an effective security strategy. Keys needed to be made with strong algorithms and entropy. David supervised the bank's security team while they created these keys using algorithms that were as secure as a bank vault and aligned with data security best practices and regulations. This first step was the groundwork for the whole security process.

Step 2 – Distribution

After creating robust keys, the next thing was to safely assign them to the different teams and systems. To do this, the keys needed to be protected during the transfer. David compared this step to moving something very valuable, like cash. To ensure the keys stayed safe during the transit, he encrypted them and ensured they travelled through secure channels.

Step 3 – Usage

These keys were used for encrypting, decrypting, and performing other data security tasks. David enforced strict access controls using keys. Only authorized personnel had access to the "vault" where their keys were stored. He set up tracking systems and an audit trail to monitor key interactions closely.

Step 4 – Storage

David required a highly secure solution to protect encryption keys during inactivity. The regulations in his industry dictate the use Hardware Security Modules (HSMs), which provide the highest levels of security. To ensure no malicious digital intruders could gain access, David made it a routine to swap and update the keys periodically.

Step 5 - Revocation

When keys are no longer needed or have reached the end of their assigned lifespan, they must be made unusable. David had a protocol to disable these keys, rendering them useless to adversaries. This practice ensured that the risks related to compromised keys were promptly addressed without security disruption.

Step 6 - Recovery

Even when using the safest of vaults, people can lose track of keys that guard the access to critical data. Understanding the significance of a backup plan, David established procedures to recover keys in emergencies, ensuring continuous access to data.

Step 7 - Deletion

When the keys had fulfilled their purpose and became obsolete, David made sure to delete them securely. Just like a bank shreds old documents to safeguard its customers, he erased these keys so they cannot be recovered. This phase helped the bank meet one of the most critical data protection compliance requirements.

Challenges in the Implementation of a Key Management Solution

David was required to collaborate with several teams in the organization to implement and integrate key management successfully. This includes the planning phase by convening a cross-functional team, including representatives from the IT department, compliance, legal, and business units. He faced several challenges, but he had a plan in place.

1. Complexity

A bank infrastructure is complex and an intricate web of interconnected systems, applications, and databases, each demanding its own set of cryptographic keys for data encryption and protection. David ensured that every department, every service, and every transaction was assigned secure encryption keys.

2. Security Risks

Ensuring key storage is the priority; however, monitoring people using keys is more important. David enforced strict quorum approvals and key usage authorization. Regular audits helped identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the key management process, allowing for timely remediation.

3. Compliance

Banks operate under a watchful regulatory eye, and David knew the tightrope walk required to meet compliance standards. David ensured the bank would never face any fines or legal ramifications. He demanded recorded proof of encryption key protection and enforced it as a fundamental requirement to demonstrate the bank's commitment to data security.

4. Cost

The finance team wanted to understand how the key management implementation would impact business operations. David couldn't escape the financial realities. The cost of such implementations was not insignificant. HSMs, secure containers, and advanced encryption technologies required another look at the budgets. David projected a unified key management platform as an investment that will help the bank reduce operational costs and avoid regulatory penalties in case of data breaches. The cost of a security breach far outweighed the expenses of proactive security measures.

Fortanix- Data Security You Can Bank On!

Trusted by some of the world's largest banks, Fortanix helps banks accelerate digital transformation, prevent digital fraud, secure cross-border data transfers, and comply with banking regulations.

Fortanix's Enterprise Key Management Solution offers a robust and secure foundation for the banking sector's critical data protection needs. Fortanix, with its encryption technology, centralized key management, and compliance-driven features, empowers financial institutions to protect data and confidently maintain regulatory compliance.

Connect with our team for a free trial of our solution.

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