“One could argue that AI-enabled automation will eventually find its way into Business Process Automation. This process has already started, specifically when you consider cases where decision-making in a short time over a large set of data, matters the most. That being said, some existing solutions for BPA cases are proven to be more practical than newer solutions driven by AI,” says Avesta Hojjati, Head of R&D, DigiCert, in an exclusive interview with EnterpriseTalk.
ET Bureau: In this digital era, what are the key benefits of using automation tools to manage digital certificates?
Avesta Hojjati: Certificate automation is becoming increasingly important. Improved business productivity and performance are key benefits of using automation tools. A recent survey found that more than 40 percent of workers spend 25 percent of their time on repetitive, manual tasks.
Sixty percent estimate they could save at least six hours a week by implementing automation. Automation tools enable faster decisions with real-time, actionable insights into your certificate inventory. This enables brands to prevent revenue losses by giving them control and insight into certificates to make decisions faster and remain compliant.
Also, about 80 percent of organizations estimate that their TLS usage will increase by a quarter in the next five years, which can only increase the consequences of outages. While a manual process may work for small organizations, it does not hold up at scale. The more certificates you use, the more you need automation.
Automation makes it easy to keep up with industry changes and maintain visibility over your certificate network. Most organizations do not have the bandwidth to dedicate a team member to certificate management alone, yet it can be a full-time job to manage certificates and make sure your organization is compliant.
ET Bureau: What security challenges must businesses be wary of when it comes to managing digital certificates?
Avesta Hojjati: Organizations continue to suffer service downtime from expired or misconfigured certificates. Changing industry standards and reduced certificate validity are requiring more frequent certificate management activity.
According to the 2021 State of PKI Automation survey, in the past six months, 26 percent of organizations have experienced more than five instances of site downtime due to certification expiration. Survey participants stated that challenges managing digital certificates lead to compliance issues (54%), security issues (53%). and cost issues (53%).
It’s difficult to stay updated on the latest threats to web security when they continue to evolve in sophistication. Automated processes make it easier to stay ahead of threats and respond quickly in case of breaches.
Additionally, quantum computing will be here sooner than we expect, and if certificate inventories are not crypto-agile, then the network will be vulnerable to attacks. Organizations should not underestimate the time taken for the transition of cryptography from using certificates with classic algorithms to post-quantum algorithms. However, automation tools will make sure it is more adaptable to protect against threats by enabling brands to discover outdated certificates that support pre-quantum cryptography and replace them quickly.
Many organizations do not have proper certificate management, which puts them at risk. For example, if one has outdated protocols, the organization is at risk of exposing data and vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks that are easy for attackers to exploit.
ET Bureau: Talking about automation, what are some of the best strategies that companies could apply to advance their automation processes?
Avesta Hojjati: The emphasis on automation does not mean a brand should automate everything. It makes the most sense to automate tasks that are repetitive and require significantly less human management. Additionally, companies should automate tasks that are time-sensitive so that if someone takes a leave of absence or vacation, they still get done. Here are a few examples of what companies should consider in order to advance automation processes:
- Repetitive, manual tasks
- Things with high volume
- Processes prone to human error
- Tasks that require several people
- Time-sensitive tasks
- Audit-sensitive processes
ET Bureau: In your perspective, do you think excelling in Business Process Automation (BPA) is more important than AI-enabled automation solutions?
Avesta Hojjati: One could argue that AI-enabled automation will eventually find its way to Business Process Automation. Matter of fact, this process has already started, specifically when you consider cases where decision-making in a short time over a large set of data, matters the most. That being said, some existing solutions for BPA cases are proven to be more practical than newer solutions driven by AI. For example, solutions for automating certificates within a PKI environment do exist, and without AI, they can handle the vast majority of use cases. Overall AI-driven solutions would require extensive data to be trained well, and some cases do not have such large datasets yet.
ET Bureau: How do you feel hyper-automation can add value to business processes?
Avesta Hojjati: Hyper-automation plays an essential role in the journey of digital transformation. The use of AI, Advanced Analytics, Business Intelligence, and Robotic automation creates the base of Hyper-automation. Hyper-automation enables organizations to increase their business agility while improving their overall posture throughout the digital transformation journey.
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 startup. Avesta focuses on applied cryptography, blockchain, post-quantum crypto, and IoT security. Avesta earned his Master’s in computer science with a concentration on security from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and he recently completed his PhD dissertation on applications of blockchain and IoT in manufacturing.