Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is a cornerstone for secure digital communication in the rapidly evolving cybersecurity landscape. Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to spend time in three major regions— the United States, the European Union, and Asia-Pacific (APAC) — and delve into the nuances that define and differentiate the trends steering PKI in these areas.
There are many similarities from region to region, but there are also myriad differences in how organizations around the world approach PKI and other industry trends. Below, I share my observations on what the US, EU, and APAC have in common regarding PKI— and where these regions differ. And, since 2023 is coming to a close, I’ll also offer a few predictions for the evolution of PKI going into the new year.
A closer look at four universal cybersecurity trends
1. Increasing risk and demand for cybersecurity
Across all three regions I visited, I noticed a common thread weaving through the fabric of PKI trends— an escalation in risk, a surge in demand for cybersecurity measures, and an increased reliance on PKI.
2. The skills gap drives the mode of PKI deployment
Organizations worldwide are still grappling with a cybersecurity labor shortage, so unsurprisingly, the need for more skilled personnel is a common challenge for US, EU, and APAC businesses. To combat the lack of resources, organizations choose PKI deployment and operational modes that are easier to manage and require less specialized expertise. This includes packaged solutions both on-premise and in the cloud.
3. Rise of containers and automation
The rise of containerization is a phenomenon observed worldwide, transforming on-premise operations. Organizations around the globe are experiencing a shift towards containerization, streamlining deployment, and enhancing operational efficiency. Automation, which is closely connected to containerization, helps address the scarcity of skilled personnel during the ongoing labor shortage, and an increasing number of organizations are investing in ways to streamline processes and operations to cope with the evolving landscape.
4. Zero trust is a common buzzword
Zero trust, a buzzword echoing in the corridors of cybersecurity, is a shared focal point for organizations globally. Though interpretations may vary, the integration of mutual TLS (mTLS) stands out as a primary manifestation of the zero-trust principle. This especially is in focus for newer applications, while legacy applications get isolated or put on the watch list for decommissioning. Interest in API-driven solutions transcends regional boundaries, with users and use cases determining adoption rather than regional affiliations.
Regional distinctions: cloud adoption, sovereignty, quantum-readiness, and industry drivers
Now that we’ve covered the similarities of several regions, let’s look at three distinct ways they differ from each other.
1. Cloud adoption has a foothold in the US
The United States exhibits a prevalent shift toward cloud adoption, a trend that is slightly less pronounced in the European Union, where it often carries an undercurrent of concern. In contrast, APAC nations, particularly island nations, approach cloud adoption with caution, driven by concerns of sovereignty and a desire to maintain operations in the event of a disaster that might isolate remote locations.
2. Quantum-readiness initiatives are a regional waiting game
Post-quantum readiness continues to be a hot topic that transcends geographical boundaries. However, the urgency and initiation of efforts seem to differ between regions, with APAC adopting a more cautious stance, waiting for industry momentum, while the US and EU (especially in the finance sector) are already pioneering pilots and proof of concepts. Something else that sets the US apart is its government’s push for quantum readiness.
3. Public vs. private sector driving PKI adoption
In the US and EU, the private sector spearheads PKI adoption, with government entities following suit in the modernization journey – adopting commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions as much as possible. In large parts of APAC, however, government initiatives play a dominant role in steering PKI adoption, with the industry following suit. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for industry to drive the evolution of this technology vs government entities.
Looking ahead: 2024 and beyond
As we navigate the evolution of PKI, the convergence of global trends and regional distinctions unveils a dynamic landscape. While challenges persist, the prospect of 2024 witnessing further growth in cybersecurity and PKI is clear. The PKI journey, shaped by universal challenges and regional nuances, is a testament to the evolving nature of cybersecurity in an interconnected world. The deployment of quantum-ready PKIs stands as a beacon, and I believe that next year, we could witness the deployment of the first industry-wide quantum-ready PKIs in production.
I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what’s in store next year and observing whether my predictions come to fruition.
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