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Key rotation

Key rotation

Key rotation definition

Key rotation is a best practice of regularly changing cryptographic keys, which reduces the potential damage if a key is compromised. However, key rotation should be planned and implemented carefully, as it can lead to data loss if not managed correctly.

See also: cryptographic key

Types of key rotation

  • Time-based rotation. An organization changes the cryptographic keys after a certain period, which varies based on the nature of the data and security policy.
  • Usage-based rotation. An organization rotates the keys after they have processed a certain amount of data. This is common in high-volume systems where keys encrypt large volumes of data in a short amount of time.
  • Incident-based rotation. An organization changes the keys when an incident or a potential security threat is identified.
  • Role-based rotation. Changes in personnel or roles trigger key rotation. If an employee with access to a key leaves the company or changes roles, the key is rotated.
  • Random. Some systems opt to rotate keys at random intervals. Randomness can make the key rotation process less predictable and potentially more secure.
  • Procedure-based rotation. Some organizations have policies where key rotation is part of a routine procedure, such as system updates or upgrades.

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