Encryption Key Management Best Practices in 2021

Your encrypted data is only as secure as your key security. Organizations must effectively manage encryption keys throughout their entire lifecycle to maintain data integrity, from creation and use to rotation and destruction.

Best Practices For Encryption Key Management

Geobridge encryption key managent recommendations

Having a centralized approach to key management can help you effectively maintain your keys to support data security and minimize the chances that your information would be compromised in a security breach.

Whether you have end-to-end encryption in place for your data or you encrypt data during transit and storage, here are a few essential encryption key management best practices to keep in mind when securing your information.

Have Stronger Keys for More Sensitive Data

The more sensitive your data is, the stronger your encryption keys should be. Agencies that house data such as payment information, employee data, health data, or any personal records should have stronger cryptographic keys to protect their information. Generally, the longer a cryptographic key is, the greater the strength.

The strength of your keys will vary depending on your industry, how you store your data, how sensitive the data is, and your employee permissions. While all your keys won’t necessarily need to be the same strength, a general rule of thumb for encryption key management best practices is to have stronger keys for any sensitive data.

Geobridge encryption key management securing encryption keys
encryption key management best practises managing keys securely

Consider an HSM or HSMaaS

You should always securely store encryption keys, and be sure that anyone who has access to them has dedicated permission to do so.

When encrypting data and centralizing your encryption key management strategy, a hardware security module (HSM) is considered the most secure form of protection.

Using an HSM is often required by compliance programs, such as government data security compliance and payment security compliance standards.

Depending on your unique data security requirements, you can also use HSM as a service (HSMaaS), which can lower your on-site hardware costs while boosting security by keeping the master key stored off-site in the cloud.

Do You Have A Recovery Plan In Place?

Should your encryption keys should be compromised, it’s essential to have a data recovery plan in place. This plan should include restoring the keys so that you can still access data. Without a data recovery plan, should keys be compromised, you can permanently lose your data.

You also need the ability to destroy cryptographic keys as part of their lifecycle should data be compromised to ensure that hackers cannot access the data even if they have the key.

Planning and testing your disaster recovery strategy is a crucial part of keeping your business, as well as your data, protected.

Even seemingly minor changes such as a software update or vendor switch can impact your disaster recovery, so keep this in mind when planning.

best practises protect sensitive data

We Make Key Management Best Practices Simple

We make managing your encryption keys simple. We provide HSMs and HSMaaS to help you create a unified approach to key management and keep your keys properly managed and secure.

Does your organization abide by these encryption key management best practices? If not, you could be putting your data unnecessarily at risk. Contact us today to explore your key management solutions!

How can we help you?

Talk to one of our specialists and find out how Utimaco can support you today.
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