Prevent Data Breaches with an Enterprise Key Management System

Ankita Rawate Fortanix
Ankita Rawate
Published:Apr 10, 2024
Reading Time:3min
enterprise key management system

With the rise of cloud infrastructure, organizations are shifting towards cloud computing to improve their business efficiency and productivity. However, adopting a multi-cloud environment also brings a significant security threat - the theft of encryption keys.

The theft of encryption keys is a primary catalyst for data breaches. While the cloud offers unmatched scalability and accessibility, it concurrently exposes organizations to the risks of key compromise.  

The benefits of the cloud are undeniable, but its susceptibility to unauthorized access makes sensitive information vulnerable. The ease with which encryption keys can be stolen in cloud environments is because malicious actors exploit weak security measures, misconfigurations, or even manipulate users to gain access to these cryptographic keys 

Let us understand in which situations the encryption keys are stolen in a multi-cloud infrastructure despite its advanced security measures. 

  1. Misconfigured Access: A company uses multiple cloud providers for its infrastructure and mistakenly configures overly permissive access controls on its key management service in one of the clouds. Due to this misconfiguration, an attacker can gain unauthorized access to the key management system (KMS) and steal encryption keys. 
  2. Intercloud Communication: During encrypted data transfer between two cloud environments, the encryption keys are exchanged without proper protection. An attacker with access to the network can intercept the communication and capture the encryption keys. 
  3. Third-party Integration: A company integrates a third-party application into its multi-cloud environment to streamline data processing. This application requires access to data encryption keys stored in the cloud. However, the third-party application can have a vulnerability that allows an attacker to compromise it. 
  4. Insider Threats: An employee with privileged access to the key management system (KMS) in one of the cloud environments can retrieve encryption keys from the key management system (KMS) and exfiltrate encrypted data without detection. 
  5. Lack of Unified Key Management: A company cannot enforce consistent security controls across its multi-cloud environment because it lacks a unified approach to key management. As a result, encryption keys may be stored using different encryption algorithms or security protocols, targeting weaker implementations and making them more vulnerable to attacks.
  6. Cloud Service Vulnerabilities: A vulnerability in a cloud storage service used by an organization for data storage can allow attackers to bypass authentication mechanisms and gain unauthorized access to the service's infrastructure.  

Here's how a centralized an enterprise key management system (EKMS) can help organizations counter the challenges mentioned above.   

  1. With a centralized an enterprise key management system (EKMS), access controls can be uniformly applied and monitored across all cloud environments. This ensures that encryption keys are only accessible to authorized personnel.
  2. Organizations can enforce robust encryption standards and secure key exchange protocols, mitigating the risk of interception during data transfer between different cloud environments. A centralized KMS ensures that encryption keys are securely distributed and protected. 
  3. Organizations can configure strict access controls and authentication mechanisms for third-party applications accessing encryption keys. KMS (Key Management System) can also offer the capability to continuously monitor for vulnerabilities in these integrations to identify security flaws and prevent unauthorized access.
  4. Organizations can monitor granular access controls and privileged user activities effectively. Logging and auditing all key management operations can help detect suspicious activities in real-time and prevent insider threats.
  5. Organizations can implement consistent encryption policies and standardize encryption algorithms and security protocols across multiple cloud providers. This ensures that encryption keys are managed uniformly, reducing the risk of vulnerabilities associated with disparate key management approaches.
  6. Organizations can promptly respond to vulnerabilities in cloud services by rotating encryption keys and updating security configurations. They can maintain tight control over encryption keys and mitigate the risks.


Encryption keys are a prime target for attackers seeking unauthorized access to sensitive data. With a centralized an enterprise key management system in place, organizations have better visibility, control, and security over their encryption keys, reducing the risk of data breaches and the associated consequences. 

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