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Blog Post Nov 17, 2023

What Is a Credential Vault?

Most organizations face increasingly complex IT environments with growing numbers of security credentials. This often hampers IT efficiency and poses increasing risks of intrusion and data breach. Plus, ensuring everything complies with the latest policy and compliance requirements is time-consuming and labor-intensive.

A credential vault, also called a key vault or secrets manager, is a secure and centralized solution for storing sensitive authentication data, private cryptographic keys, digital certificates, and other credentials. Contributing to the security of Public Key Infrastructure credential vaults ensure only authorized entities can access critical data, helping prevent breaches, secure digital identities, and comply with regulations.

Let's review the purpose, components, and benefits of a credential vault and the top use cases to illustrate its practical application.

credential vault

Credential Vault: Purpose, components, and benefits

A credential vault allows you to implement access control, and is a single, centralized place where secrets (including private keys) can reside so that only those with appropriate access to the vault can reliably obtain the secrets they need. It also keeps a detailed log of all access and interactions for compliance auditing and security monitoring. You can integrate a credential vault with hardware security modules and software-based security solutions to support various data security requirements.

A secure credential vault comes with several key benefits:

  • Centralize and safeguard sensitive credentials to enhance security and protect against data breaches.
  • Protect systems and data by eliminating the need to hard-code credentials into applications or devices.
  • Prevent unauthorized access or modifications with advanced access controls, encryption, and auditing mechanisms.
  • Meet cybersecurity standards and regulatory compliance requirements (e.g., PCI DSS, HIPAA, GDPR).
  • Automate authentication processes while minimizing the risk of exposing credentials.
  • Store and manage cryptographic keys securely to ensure data confidentiality and integrity.
  • Centralize and streamline credential management across systems and applications to reduce complexity.
  • Log all interactions and modifications to improve accountability and support incident investigation.
  • Scale up quickly to accommodate a fast-expanding number of applications and services.

Credential vault use cases

Here's how a credential vault supports various aspects of information security:

Software Code Signing

You can store cryptographic keys for signing code and software applications to verify their integrity and authenticity and to ensure they're not tampered with while in transit. A certificate vault also supports key rotation and key usage policies to enhance code security and trust in software distribution.

Identity and access management (IAM)

A certificate vault allows you to store and manage application programming interface (API) keys, OAuth tokens, and other authentication credentials to streamline the implementation of user- and role-based access control. It also allows you to efficiently manage usernames and passwords.

Data encryption

A certificate vault helps you manage encryption keys to protect sensitive data in storage. Meanwhile, database encryption offers an extra layer of protection by preventing attackers from reading sensitive information even if they breach the storage system.

Credential vault: The foundation of a robust credential management system

A credential vault allows organizations to efficiently manage the growing numbers of credentials and permissions for various applications across complex IT infrastructures. It helps centralize credential management to improve IT cost efficiency, strengthen your security posture, and mitigates the risk of credentials falling out of policy or being compromised. You can also future-proof your business simply by re-keying a credential vault to stay current with evolving internal policies, security standards, and compliance requirements.

Contact us to learn more about credential vaults and how you can integrate them into your digital certificate ecosystem to enhance data security and integrity.

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