The key to successful digital transformation: automated security


By Avesta Hojjati*
Tuesday, 01 June, 2021

The key to successful digital transformation: automated security

The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has put outdated business processes under the spotlight, with digital transformation no longer just a “nice to have” or innovative issue for only the most forward-thinking companies.

However, while critical to survival, without proper security measures in place, digital transformation doesn’t support adaptation, but rather hinders it.

Public key infrastructure (PKI) is just one aspect of digital transformation which often leaves businesses exposed to threats, particularly when it comes to digital certificates. With more and more devices and users, often connecting remotely, organisations need a more efficient way to manage their certificates in order to effectively protect customers and corporate data. The answer? Automating security management, which can save you time, increase business agility and protect against human error.

No matter where your organisation stands with digital transformation, considering automation and how to automate security in particular will get you closer to attaining all the benefits that digital transformation has to offer.

What good is digital transformation if your business is at risk?

As your organisation moves to digital process automation, if you forget security it could lead to major risks and potential service failures. In fact, a Ponemon study found 82% of IT security administrators and C-level respondents reported having experienced one or more data breaches as a result of digital transformation.

Just last year, 79% of global executives named cyber attacks and threats as a top priority for risk management. Similarly in 2019, a study found security was the second highest investment priority, following cloud migration. Most of the time, business leaders are put under intense pressure to ensure strong return on investment with digital transformation initiatives, so it’s no surprise they are prioritising security — especially when certificate outages can cost over $500,000 per hour and take up to days to repair, all while damaging brand reputation.

Beyond this, no matter the size or scale of your business, threats continue to evolve and increase in sophistication, often making them harder to detect. This is where automated certificate management can support IT professionals in staying ahead of threats and enable faster response.

When you’re automating one, automate another!

Just as businesses have prioritised automating key business tasks, they should also automate what they can with security. When it comes to PKI, for example, it’s never been a better time to automate. Excel spreadsheets and calendar reminders are no longer viable to manage digital certificates. Modern PKI solutions automate certificate request, renewal, validation, alerts and revocation to simplify PKI security, reduce costs and save time. These solutions not only protect you against breaches, but also enable you to maintain visibility over your certificate network.

Technology has evolved and nowadays businesses can automate all kinds of processes to reduce human error, reduce costs and save time. One of the most popular examples of digital transformation is moving from paper to digital, including for signed documents. For instance, digital document signing has enabled a way to automate signatures in batches for mass signing. Automated signing is faster and easier to deploy at scale and, most importantly, more secure than traditional signatures because it is tamper-proof. Digital document signing eliminates the need for handwritten signatures, decreases costs, accelerates business transactions and leaves a smaller environmental footprint.

However, it should come as no surprise that document signing requires security to ensure data integrity and document authenticity, and to prevent non-repudiation. Using PKI standards and procedures, digital signatures use a cryptographic key to protect the contents of the document and identify the signer. Not only does this method provide the highest level of assurance based on global digital signing regulations, it also makes the document legally binding. Managing large volumes of documents and signing them quickly and simply can only be achieved through automating digital signing — a prime example of how security automation goes hand in hand with digital transformation.

By now it should be clear that the need for security extends to all aspects of digital transformation and, as organisations increase their reliance on digital certificates and PKI, automating security will only become increasingly critical to save time and simplify management tasks.

*Avesta Hojjati is the Head of R&D at DigiCert, where he manages advanced development of cybersecurity products. Before joining DigiCert, Avesta was part of the Symantec and Yahoo security teams, as well as operating his own cybersecurity start-up. Avesta focuses on applied cryptography, blockchain, post-quantum crypto and IoT security. Avesta earned his Masters in computer science with a concentration on security from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and he’s currently completing his PhD dissertation on applications of blockchain and IoT in manufacturing.

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