What are Cloud Key Management Services?

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What is Cloud Key Management Service

In a cryptosystem, key Management refers to the Management of cryptographic keys. Cryptographic algorithms produce keys, which are then encrypted and decoded to supply the needed information securely, hence achieving system security.

Cloud key management refers to the cloud-hosted service where symmetric and asymmetric cryptographic keys can be managed similarly to on-premises.

This article will briefly describe the Cloud Key Management Services, Use Cases, and Models. Let’s dive in,

What are Cloud Key Management Services?

In cloud computing, cloud key management refers to securing encryption keys. Encryption keys are essential to protect data processed and stored in the cloud and maintain privacy and integrity.

This includes key creation, secure storage, regular rotation, auditing, access control, and cloud service integration. Systems for managing cloud keys also help ensure adherence to industry-specific data security standards.

Key Management as a Service (KMS), provided by several cloud service providers, adds extra layers of security to data saved in the cloud by efficiently maintaining encryption keys, particularly when handling private or sensitive data.

Notable Features

  • Provide centralized, scalable, and quick cloud key management.
  • Assist in meeting demands for privacy, security, and compliance.
  • Use hardware security modules (HSMs) for your most sensitive data quickly.
  • Protect your data on Google Cloud using an external KMS and separate the data from the key.
  • Offer specific, well-reasoned reasons for granting or refusing any request for your encryption keys.

The Fundamental Characteristics

Manage Encryption keys Centrally

An essential management service hosted in the cloud enables you to manage symmetric and asymmetric cryptographic keys for your cloud services in the same manner that you do on-premises. Cryptographic keys AES256, RSA 2048, RSA 3072, RSA 4096, EC P256, and EC P384 may be generated, used, rotated, and destroyed.

Integrate HSM Hardware Key Security

Push a button to switch encryption keys secured by hardware or software. In HSM, verified to FIPS 140-2 Level 3, host encryption keys, and carry out cryptographic operations. Without worrying about the operational overhead of operating an HSM cluster, you can safeguard your most critical workloads with this wholly managed solution.

Take Charge of Who has Access to your Data

To provide you with even more control over your data, Key Access Justifications integrates with cloud-based key management systems. It is the sole solution that allows you to see each request for an encryption key, the reason behind it, and an approval or rejection mechanism for decryption inside that request.

Why is Cloud Key Management Services Significant?

Data Security: 

Cloud key management is the basis for cloud data security. It guarantees the privacy and integrity of your data by guarding against breaches and unwanted access.

Tracking Unauthorized Entries: 

KMS systems provide auditing and record-keeping features that allow you to immediately monitor key usage and identify unauthorized access attempts or suspicious activity.

Adherence to Regulations: 

Several businesses have specific data security and compliance criteria. Cloud KMS complies with appropriate regulations and securely manages encryption keys to assist organizations in meeting regulatory requirements.

Access Control:

It offers tools for managing and limiting access to encryption keys. This level of fine-grained access control assists in preventing unapproved key usage.

Cloud Key Management Services Use Cases

We’ll talk about the primary use cases for the solutions and the significant distinctions between data encryption, secret key Management, and certificate management on Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon AWS.

The Azure Security Key Vault Service 

The Microsoft Azure cloud platform offers a centralized solution key vault for storing security keys and certificates for Azure web apps and cold storage and for securing application-sensitive data. It supports software and hardware keys, may be used as a PaaS solution, and can be linked with other Azure cloud services.

  • Azure Security Keys are generated in the resource group with access controls, a payment tier (standard and premium), and the name of the key vault. Numerous tools may be used to retrieve vault keys, including PowerShell, Node.js, Python, Azure CLI, Ney SDK, Java SDK, Rest API, and more.
  • The two service levels offered by Azure Key Vault are standard and premium, and both of them may be utilized in the following prominent use cases:
  • Use Azure Key Vault to handle backend Azure SQL, Logical Apps, and Web Apps. Monitor and log using Secrets and certificates.
  • AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and others offer identity translation or brokering services.
  • Administer the virtual machine and disc storage using the VM keys and Azure Key Vault.

Google Cloud Key Management Service

A centralized cloud service called Google Cloud Key Management Service (CKMS) is used to manage encryption keys for encrypted cloud data files for use with other Google services, including storage, Web apps, API tokens, and data files. It employs the AES 256 encryption technique to secure data files.

Google Cloud KMS supports both symmetric and asymmetric keys. It is related to several other Google services, including content management, storage management, and cloud identity and access management. Like Azure Vault, Google CKMS is related to a hardware security model that involves cloud monitoring and logging.

Primary use cases:

  • Manage disc storage, Web Apps APIs, and content access with Google Cloud KMS.
  • Symmetric keys (master keys and data keys) or asymmetric keys (public keys and private keys) are used to control the encryption and decryption of data files.
  • Utilise encrypted data in BigQuery with Google services’ APIs.

AWS Key Management Service

The AWS Key Management System (KMS) manages regional keys. Multi-region keys can be utilized in several areas when using global applications or disaster recovery.

Two types of encryptions are available with AWS key management services: client-side and server-side. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) on AWS is where it is managed. Through KMS, users may generate, use, and maintain encryption keys besides provisioning and using them to secure data.

Recommended: What Is AWS Cloud Security? Best Practices to Secure Amazon Web Services

For instance, to save data or encrypt a file, a KMS user can utilize a data key. Within the encrypted data file, an encrypted data key that utilizes the KMS crypto model is kept encrypted. The data file will be decrypted when the data key has been decoded during the decryption procedure.

The primary use cases for AWS differ from those for Azure key vaults because of the distinction between symmetric and asymmetric vital methods:

  • The AWS system creates a new data key, which is securely encrypted with a master key by the AWS KMS and secured within the KMS. Using the TLS, AWS will return the user’s encrypted and clear version keys. The client can encrypt using the clear version key or utilize the encrypted version key for decryption at a later time.
  • The client will create their keys in Azure Vault, encrypt the data file using the public key Azure Key Vault provides, and then decode it using the private key.

Additional Services for Cloud Key Management

Other cloud key management systems exist, including Spring Cloud Vault, which offers a centralized location for managing external security secrets with an external client-side configuration. This platform for preserving security secrets with an open structure could be used to secure external services like the Could database (which supports PostgreSQL, MongoDB, MySQL, and more).

Recommended: Enterprise Key Management System vs Key Management System

Models of Key Management in the Cloud

Cryptomathic’s Approach to Providing Banking-grade Security and Compliance

Cryptomathic’s Cryptographic Key Management System (CKMS) can handle the EXTERNAL KEY ORIGINATION, CLOUD SERVICE USING EXTERNAL KEY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM, and MULTI-CLOUD KEY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (MCKMS) key management models, offering flexible banking-grade security and compliance.

Models CLOUD SERVICE USING EXTERNAL KEY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM and MULTI-CLOUD KEY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (MCKMS) would be the best option if privacy and genuine key ownership are the highest priority.

We go into more detail about these two patterns and the advantages clients might have when adopting CKMS in both instances below.

Cloud Service using an External Key Management System

The External Key Management System uses the cloud service; however, it is hosted either on the client’s property, by a third party selected by the customer, or a combination of both.

The hardware is provided for the client’s exclusive use, regardless of who owns it—the cloud provider or the customer. A co-location arrangement, in which the customer’s hardware is hosted, or the cloud provider may support a specific cloud hardware security module (HSM).

If a service issue brought on by the key management system (KMS) occurs, the customer must consider the cloud provider’s service-level agreement obligations. There can be no key wrapping or unwrapping by the CSP to ensure complete information privacy from the provider.

Perks of this model

Adopting the External Key Management System Approach has several advantages, such as

  • Customers retain much authority by being familiar with and configuring protocols, key lengths, and algorithms.
  • The cloud provider never receives access to critical information.
  • increased mobility because of the majority, if not all, of important administrative tasks being carried out off-cloud
  • Activities inside CKMS and the division of tasks for KMS and cloud service activities are supported.
  • Nevertheless, Cryptomathic’s CKMS has merits concentrated on cloud solutions such as Microsoft Azure, which can handle encrypted data in symmetric key infrastructures without sacrificing key security.

Challenges of this model

Choosing an External Key Management System has its challenges.

  • It’s not as popular as other patterns, and certain cloud service providers might not support it.
  • Since the cloud provider’s systems must process client data in plaintext, which goes against maintaining customer data confidentiality, this paradigm is usually incompatible with SaaS or other services.

When Should You Choose an External Key Management Approach?

It is advised to select the External Key Management approach in the following situations:

  • There is no native KMS available from the cloud provider.
  • The client desires a single KMS for both cloud-based and on-premises usage.
  • It is necessary to protect plaintext from the cloud provider.
  • Higher certification in FIPS is required.

Multi-Cloud Key Management System

The Multi-Cloud Key Management Systems framework makes blended methods managed by an external and central key management system possible.  

Perks of this Model

Selecting the Multi-Cloud Key Management Systems model has several advantages, such as

  • Investing in resources and experience might aid in promoting the quick adoption of further cloud services.
  • Data is still maintained by a single central key management system under the ownership of the data owner, even if it might move across different clouds and data centers.
  • The data owner may conduct compliance audits from the key management system’s central locations.
  • They assign variables to deployed cloud KMS patterns, such as installation time, cost, control, complexity, performance, scale, and compatibility.
  • The customer’s utilization of various public cloud providers means this approach offers the highest fault tolerance, mobility, and scalability.

Challenges of this model

  • The Multi-Cloud Key Management System paradigm is a more proactive key Management method.
  • It does need more experience, more time for planning and implementation, and more money for licensing and operating expenses.
  • However, this architecture offers the highest level of fault tolerance, mobility, and scalability despite these difficulties because the client is utilizing several public cloud providers.

When should you Choose a Multi-cloud Key Management System?

The Multi-Cloud Key Management System ought to be chosen in the following circumstances.

  • It needs more scalability and robustness.
  • Must be flexible because of the changing structure of their organization, which may result from periodic acquisitions or divestitures.
  • Rigorous compliance standards for security data must be met.
  • Features sophisticated technological structures.

Final Thoughts!

The significance of Cloud Key Management Services is indisputable, considering the growing volume of confidential information maintained on cloud servers. If you manage your encryption keys well, your data will be further secured and kept confidential even in the unlikely scenario of an unauthorized access or security breach.

Purchasing reliable Cloud Key Management Services is not only a wise decision but also essential in today’s environment, where data breaches are a significant issue if you want to protect your digital assets and keep stakeholders and consumers confident.

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Common FAQ’s

What is Key Management when using Cloud Services?

 Key management is the management of cryptographic keys inside a cryptosystem. Cryptographic techniques produce keys that are then encrypted and decoded to provide the necessary information to ensure system security.

Where can we Utilize KMS?

Your KMS keys can encrypt up to 4096 bytes of small data. However, outside of AWS KMS, the data keys that encrypt your data are usually generated, encrypted, and decrypted using KMS keys.

What is Azure’s Key Management Service?

One of Azure’s key management options Key Vault, addresses the following issues: Manage Secrets – Azure Tokens, passwords, certificates, API keys, and other secrets may be securely stored and precisely controlled using Key Vault.

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Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a passionate Cyber-Security Enthusiast who keenly monitors the latest developments in the Web/Cyber Security industry. She puts her knowledge into practice and helps web users by arming them with the necessary security measures to stay safe in the digital world.