Cryptographic keys and key management procedures are the backbone of any secure digital communication and cryptography control. The proper handling of these keys is essential for protecting sensitive information and ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data.
In this article, we will explore the importance of cryptographic keys and key management procedures, and provide a list of best practices for ensuring the security of your keys.
Cryptographic keys are the foundation of encryption, the process of converting plain text into an unreadable format.
These keys encrypt and decrypt data, and they are a crucial component of secure digital communication.
The strength and security of encryption is directly tied to the strength of the keys. Therefore, it is essential that these keys are generated and managed in a secure manner.
Key management procedures are the set of rules and procedures used to generate, store, and destroy cryptographic keys.
These procedures are critical to ensure that keys are used for their intended purpose and only by authorized individuals.
They also provide a way to revoke or replace compromised keys.
Proper key management procedures include:
- Generating keys using a secure method
- Storing keys in a secure location
- Destroying keys in a secure manner
- Managing access to keys
- Regularly rotating or replacing keys
Generate keys using a secure method ensuring that the keys are of sufficient strength and that they are not easily guessable or crackable.
Storing keys in a secure location, such as a hardware security module (HSM) or key management system, ensures that they are not accessible to unauthorized individuals.
Destroy keys in a secure manner, such as physical destruction of the key or with a secure key destruction tool. This ensures that the keys cannot be recovered and used again.
Managing access to keys, such as through access controls or role-based access. This ensures that only authorized individuals can use the keys.
Regularly rotate or replace keys, such as on a regular schedule or after a key compromise. This ensures that keys are not used for an extended period of time and that they are replaced before they can be compromised.
To ensure the security of your cryptographic keys, it is essential to implement proper key management procedures.
To start, here are 5 tasks you can do now:
To-do List for Securing cryptographic keys
- Review your current key management procedures and identify any gaps or areas for improvement
- Implement a key rotation schedule
- Ensure that keys are stored in a secure location such as an HSM or Key Management System
- Regularly review and update access controls for keys
- Regularly review and update key destruction procedures
In conclusion, cryptographic keys and key management procedures are essential for protecting sensitive information and ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data.
Implement proper key management procedures, so you can ensure that your keys are used for their intended purpose and that they are protected from unauthorized access and use.
Information Security Management System Mappings covered with the Cryptographic Controls Standard Operating Procedure:
- A10. Cryptographic controls
- A10.1.1 Policy on the use of cryptographic controls
- A10.1.2 Key management
AICPA TSC 2017:
- CC6.1 “The entity implements logical access security software, infrastructure, and architectures over protected information assets to protect them from security events to meet the entity’s objectives.”
- CC6.7 “The entity restricts the transmission, movement, and removal of information to authorized internal and external users and processes, and protects it during transmission, movement, or removal to meet the entity’s objectives.”
NIST SP 800-53, Revision 5:
- SC-12 Cryptographic Key Establishment and Management
- SC-13 Cryptographic Protection
- SC-17 Public Key Infrastructure Certificates