Why use a Cloud-External Key Management System (KMS)?

by Sandrine | Feb 6, 2024 | Cryptography, Engineering, Security

The Importance of a Cloud-External Key Management System (KMS)

The significance of safeguarding sensitive data is now more crucial than ever. Enterprise companies, in particular, have amplified their focus on data protection, with a staggering 87% already leveraging Key Management Systems, according to a recent survey by Gartner.

While larger corporations have swiftly integrated KMS into their infrastructure, the need for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to incorporate these systems into their IT stack has become increasingly evident. Implementing a robust Cloud-External KMS is a proactive step for SMBs, protecting against potential data breaches, ensuring compliance with regulations, and bolstering their overall cybersecurity posture.

Cloud-managed Key Management Services solutions present an accessible avenue for companies seeking swift implementation and management of encryption keys. However, the ease of access can often be akin to leaving the keys under the doormat. While convenient, entrusting cloud providers with key management may inadvertently compromise security, as centralized control over encryption keys poses inherent risks. It’s akin to granting access to a vault but leaving the master key within reach, potentially exposing sensitive data to unauthorized access or breaches.

In this article, we’ll explore the top five reasons why a Cloud-External Key Management System is indispensable for businesses of all sizes, serving as a bedrock for fortifying data security and compliance measures.

1. Enhanced Security

In the realm of cloud breaches, the separation of encryption keys from data serves as a crucial shield. If a breach occurs within a cloud provider, a Cloud-External Key Management System ensures that the keys remain distinct, effectively preventing unauthorized access to encrypted data. Concerns regarding governmental access, exemplified by acts like Cloud Act, underscore the significance of this segregation, maintaining data security even in scenarios where legal access is requested. Lastly, reliance on the cloud provider’s black-box operation necessitates substantial trust, potentially conflicting with the concept of a zero-trust strategy, posing a trade-off between convenience and security.

2. Multi-Cloud Strategy Enablement

The prevalence of data scattered across multiple platforms (on-premises, cloud, hybrid) demands a cohesive strategy. A Cloud-External KMS empowers a multi-cloud approach, allowing for greater flexibility and control over data beyond the conventional IT perimeter. Companies leveraging various hosting sites, including SaaS applications, gain autonomy, and centralized control, crucial in a landscape characterized by diverse hosting environments.

3. Vendor Locking Mitigation

Vendor lock-in concerns with cloud providers are paramount. Businesses must address the risks associated with being tied to a single provider. Adopting a Cloud-External KMS reduces the vulnerability to vendor lock-in, providing companies with the autonomy and strategic flexibility necessary for a distributed and diverse IT ecosystem.

4. Greater Control Over Keys

A Cloud-External KMS’s advantage lies in its granular control over encryption keys. Businesses can define key lifespan, establish rotation policies, and determine key access critical in handling sensitive information. This level of control ensures compliance with regulatory requirements and offers a robust framework for managing and safeguarding sensitive data.

5. Compliance, Regulatory Adherence, and Auditability

Industries like healthcare and finance operate under stringent data protection regulations. Adopting a Cloud-External KMS simplifies compliance, ensuring encryption standards align with industry-specific mandates. Additionally, the system’s robust audit trail capabilities enable businesses to track key access, ensuring transparency and accountability during audits or assessments.


Protecting this invaluable resource is paramount in the modern business ecosystem, where data is the new oil. A cloud-external Key Management System offers an advanced layer of security, providing businesses with control, flexibility, and peace of mind. As cloud adoption continues to soar, organizations must consider and implement an external KMS to safeguard their data assets effectively.

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