Secure handling of encryption keys for small businesses : A comparative study of key management systems

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Institutionen för datavetenskap; Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Institutionen för datavetenskap

Sammanfattning: Background: A recent study shows that key management in the cooperate world is very painful due to, among other reasons, a lack of knowledge and resources. Instead, some companies embed the encryption keys and other software secrets directly in the source code for the application that uses them, introducing the risk of exposing the secrets. Today, there are multiple systems for managing keys. However, it can be hard to pick a suitable one. Objectives: The objectives of the thesis are to identify available key management systems for securing secrets in software, evaluate their eligibility to be used by small businesses based on various attributes and recommend a best practice to configure the most suited system for managing software secrets. Methods: Key management systems are identified through an extensive search, using both scientific and non-scientific search engines. Identified key management systems were compared against a set of requirements created from a small business perspective. The systems that fulfilled the requirements were implemented and comprehensively evaluated through SWOT analyses based on various attributes. Each system was then scored and compared against each other based on these attributes. Lastly, a best practice guide for the most suitable key management system was established. Results: During the thesis, a total of 54 key management systems were identified with various features and purposes. Out of these 54 systems, five key management systems were comprehensively compared. These were Pinterest Knox, Hashicorp Vault, Square Keywhiz, OpenStack Barbican, and Cyberark Conjur. Out of these five, Hachicorp Vault was deemed to be the most suitable system for small businesses. Conclusions: There is currently a broad selection of key management systems available. The quality, price, and intended use of these vary, which makes it time-consuming to identify the system that is best suitable based on the needs. The thesis concludes Hachicorp Vault to be the most suitable system based on the needs presented. However, the thesis can also be used by businesses with other needs as a guideline to aid the problem of choosing a key management system.

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