The world of digital certificates is about to change drastically. Driven by Google and other major players, SSL/TLS certificate validity periods will soon shrink from one year to just 90 days. This change will have significant implications for IT teams, underscoring the need for a robust certificate lifecycle automation solution that meets security demands without overwhelming operations. 

 Are 90-Day Certificates Coming? 

 Since our last post on 90-day certificates, the momentum toward this change appears to be growing. Although no official announcement has been made, Google and other influential players in the world of digital certificates continue to push for 90-day certificate validity periods. Considering Google’s outsized influence on the certificate landscape, it is almost certain that 90-day certificates will become a reality within the next year or two. 

Understanding the Implications 

Enhancing Your Digital Certificate Posture

The rationale for shorter certificate lifetimes is straightforward: reducing the validity period of SSL/TLS certificates diminishes the risk window for potential exploitation. Certificates compromised during their validity period offer attackers a prolonged opportunity to conduct malicious activities undetected, so by shortening this period to 90 days, your organization will force adversaries to contend with a reduced window for exploitation, significantly reducing the long-term risk to your organization. 

Disruptive Operational and Compliance Challenges

The operational implications of this transition are significant. If your organization does not already have a certificate lifecycle management / automation solution, the change from 398 days to only 90 days will require 6x more work for your organization. As the certificate renewal process is usually conducted 30 days before expiry, the cycle is shrinking from 365 to 60 days. This exponentially increases the administrative burden and the risk of human error, and by extension certificate outages and breaches. Compounding these risks, is the potential for fines or sanctions for non-compliance in heavily regulated industries such as financial services, healthcare, public utilities and telecommunications. 

Effortless Certificate Management with Automated Solutions  

The 90-day shift presents a challenge, but also an opportunity for your organization to future-proof certificate management practices. With shorter certificate renewal cycles, advanced certificate lifecycle management/automation (CLM/CLA) solutions are more essential than ever. Here are a few key benefits: 

Long-Term ROI + Reduced Administrative Burden

With automated certificate management, much of the dreaded (and costly) administration of digital certificates can be eliminated. Many of North America’s leading organizations, including upwards of 80% of Fortune 500 companies, already have a certificate lifecycle automation solution in place. For smaller organizations, such as mid-size enterprises, certificate lifecycle automation may have seemed like an unnecessary luxury in the past; however, with the need for 6x more frequent renewals, the ROI calculation changes drastically. 

Operational Efficiencies

Automation dramatically reduces the manual effort involved in certificate issuance, renewal, and revocation, and presents an opportunity to optimize your SecDevOps processes. Additionally, automation frees up your valuable (and often understaffed) information security team for other critical tasks and projects. 

Centralized Visibility and Control

A centralized CLM/CLA platform provides a unified dashboard with real-time visibility into every certificate within the organization. This is crucial for proactively managing renewals, identifying potential vulnerabilities, and ensuring consistent security policies across all your certificates. 

Effortless Integration

Accutive Security partners with leading cybersecurity firms like Venafi and Keyfactor to implement solutions that seamlessly integrate with your environments and your critical systems. These modernized solutions ensure a smooth transition to a 90-day cycle without changing your existing systems. 

Ensuring Continuous Compliance

Automation streamlines compliance reporting and certificate policy enforcement, ensuring that all your certificates adhere to industry standards and regulatory requirements. In addition to operational efficiencies, CLA is a powerful platform for proactive compliance management that reduces your risk of regulatory violations and penalties. 

 Looking Beyond 90-day certificates: 30-day certs? 

Although a 90-day certificate windows will be disruptive, manual management is still doable. A 30-day certificate window would make the manual management of more than a handful of certificates unthinkable, especially considering standard practice is to renew certificates 30 days in advance. 30-day validity periods would essentially entail a constant cycle of renewal, which would be incredibly disruptive for organizations without a robust certificate lifecycle automation platform. 

If 90-day certificates have not yet become a reality, is it even worth worrying about 30-day certificates? Yes, it is. Google is actively involved in discussions about 30-day certificates within the CA/Browser Forum and in other avenues. As cyberthreats escalate, it seems inevitable that shorter certificate windows that require automated management are on the near horizon. 

Seamlessly adapting to the reality of shorter certificates 

Accutive Security partners with the world’s leading cybersecurity firms to deliver best-in-class certificate lifecycle management and automation solutions (CLM / CLA). Our cybersecurity experts offer comprehensive research and consulting services to advise you on the best solution for your specific needs. We partner with leading Certificate Lifecycle Automation platforms including:

Click here to get started with a complimentary assessment of your framework and processes for managing digital certificate! 

Paul Horn is the Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of Accutive Security; he has over 30 years of cybersecurity and software development experience with a focus on data protection and cryptography. 

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