Enhancing Security: Streamlining S/MIME Certificate Management for TenneT TSO

Enhancing Security: Streamlining S/MIME Certificate Management for TenneT TSO
05 Dec ‘23


In the FBI’s Internet Crime Report of 2022, Business Email Compromise (BEC) emerged as a major cybersecurity threat, primarily exploiting the dated MIME email protocol. The subsequent evolution of MIME into S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) aimed to address security concerns, with its latest version, 4.0, released in 2019.

The Challenge at TenneT TSO

TenneT TSO, a prominent European grid operator, faced a growing challenge managing over 15,000 S/MIME certificates amidst a surge in cyber threats. The intricate support demands, estimating over 21,000 hours annually, led the IT department to recognize the inevitability of automating the certificate lifecycle. Consequently, TenneT TSO initiated a European Tender for a comprehensive issuance and management solution covering the next five years.

The Solution

To tackle the multifaceted challenge, TenneT TSO selected the collaborative expertise of DigiCert and KeyTalk. DigiCert, a global leader in digital trust, would handle certificate issuance, while KeyTalk’s Certificate and Key Management System (CKMS) would manage specific certificates requiring intricate handling and historical import. This strategic collaboration aimed to streamline the entire certificate lifecycle management process.


In the face of an implementation on a scale like this, challenges are inevitable. Yet, the collaborative efforts of TenneT TSO, DigiCert, and KeyTalk triumphed over every hurdle encountered. The cohesive teamwork demonstrated by these three entities played a pivotal role in navigating the complexities of the project.

TenneT TSO’s PKI team acknowledged and praised the remarkable flexibility and responsiveness exhibited by the DigiCert / KeyTalk team. The synergy between these groups not only facilitated problem-solving but also underscored the importance of effective collaboration in achieving project milestones.

In conclusion, TenneT TSO’s proactive approach to enhancing cybersecurity through automated S/MIME certificate management showcases a forward-thinking strategy in the face of evolving cyber threats. The successful collaboration between DigiCert and KeyTalk sets a precedent for efficient and secure certificate lifecycle management in critical infrastructure environments.

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The KeyTalk Team