Key management is a set of practices and rules that ensure the safe use of cryptographic keys. Proper management ensures a key stays safe throughout its lifecycle, from generation and use to storing and deletion.
A cryptographic key is a file that contrails a string of letters and numbers that can encrypt and decrypt data when processed by a crypto algorithm. The main goal of key management is to keep these files away from unauthorized users and systems.
A key is similar to a safe combination: no safe can stop the thief if a perpetrator knows how to unlock the vault. Similarly, poor key management can make even the best encryption algorithm worthless. A compromised key allows an attacker to:
- Convert encrypted data back to its original, plaintext form.
- Take the entire security infrastructure down.
- Act as a privileged user and access different systems and databases.
- Sign apps in your name.
Proper key management guarantees high levels of security around encrypted data and ensures:
- That only authorized users can read or access data.
- Safe transfers of data across the Internet and private networks.
- That different cyberattack types cannot easily spy, infect, or spread through your systems.