Symantec Launches Cloud-Based SSL Certificate Management Service

 
 
By Fahmida Y. Rashid  |  Posted 2011-09-12 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Symantec's Certificate Intelligence Centre will allow organizations to centrally manage all the SSL certificates deployed, regardless of the issuing certificate authority.

Symantec rolled out a new cloud-based digital certificate management service to help organizations worried about the security of their Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates.

With the Symantec Certificate Intelligence Centre, companies can manage all the certificates for their servers in one central repository, even if the certificates were issued by different certificate authorities. The service, which the company formally announced Sept. 12, features automated scanning to discover all certificates being used on the network and advanced notification when they are set to expire. The service also applies compliance requirements and provides in-depth reporting, allowing organizations to keep an eye on SSL security, Symantec said.

Organizations have to manage SSL certificates for all their servers, both internal and customer-facing, to protect user transactions from malicious attackers. The skyrocketing number of mobile applications and cloud-based services has also made the task more challenging. Gathering information on all certificates across "complex enterprise networks" is an expensive, time-consuming and resource-intensive job, according to Symantec. With the new CIC service, Symantec will help enterprises meet internal and regulatory requirements.

"Symantec Certificate Intelligence Center will make certificate management easier than ever," said Fran Rosch, vice president of Trusted Services at Symantec.

Aimed at the large enterprise, Symantec Certificate Intelligence Centre will alert an organization when a certificate is about to expire so that administrators can renew it and prevent Web browsers from throwing a warning about errors with the certificate. While users can just ignore the warning and get to the Website, with everyone jittery about the prospect of fake certificates floating in the wild, organizations want to avoid such issues.

In light of the DigiNotar breach, where an attacker compromised the certificate authority and issued over 500 fraudulent SSL certificates for high-profile Websites, organizations need to be aware of which certificates they have deployed across virtual machines, cloud services and mobile devices. A central service such as CIC could be used by an organization to verify whether it has any DigiNotar certificates, so that it can obtain replacement certificates from a different CA.

Mozilla is demanding that all the certificate authorities it works with to perform a security audit after "Comodohacker" claimed to have compromised four other authorities other than DigiNotar. Japanese-owned GlobalSign discovered one of its Web servers had been compromised, but none of the systems handles SSL certificates. Symantec "will work with Mozilla" on its request for securing the CA business, Rosch told eWEEK.

"We have performed exhaustive audits of our network, and we are confident that our systems have not been affected by recent breaches," Rosch wrote in an email. None of Symantec's SSL certificate authorities, including VeriSign, Thawte, GeoTrust and RapidSSL, had been breached, Rosch said.

The statement last week by a Dutch government agency about Thawte being compromised was made "erroneously," Rosch wrote on the Symantec blog.

Mozilla hasn't said what it will do if a CA refuses to comply with the audit demand, but removing a CA's root key from the browser would have a significant impact on the Internet. There are more than 650 certificate authorities providing SSL certificates, but one company may handle certificates for a large number of organizations.

For example, Comodo, the certificate authority whose resellers were breached earlier this year, signs certificates for "a quarter of the Internet," estimated Moxie Marlinspike, a security researcher who discussed the problems with the current CA system at this year's Black Hat security conference. Removing DigiNotar because of the breach has significantly affected Dutch government agencies and businesses.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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