How Machine Identity Management Powers Zero Trust Security Model?

In 2021, global IT and tech giant, Accenture had to face “data security incidents resulting from unauthorized access.” LockBit ransomware operators stole data, crashing the company’s systems. 

Last year witnessed not only the deadly COVID-19 variants, but also “the most serious vulnerability” which scared the global cybersecurity community. Exploitation of the Apache Log4j vulnerability allows hackers to control Java-based web servers and launch remote code execution (RCE) attacks.

From cloud storage giants like Google, Microsoft and Apple, to software sellers like IBM, Oracle and Salesforce, connected TVs and security cameras are at risk of losing sensitive information. On December 17, a notorious ransomware gang, Conti was detected scanning the web for exploiting the Log4j vulnerability before launching its own attack. An unauthenticated access is a gateway for hackers to leak data and bring down an entire target network.

 With a sharp acceleration in the number of such sophisticated attacks, many organizations are turning towards adopting the Zero Trust approach to ensure device and identity verification. The concept of zero trust is based on the assumption that network security is compromised and the users or devices have to prove that they aren’t attackers.

Let’s take a closer look at the Zero Trust model, and how a robust machine identity management solution empowers the model.

What is a Zero Trust Security Model? 

A decade ago, Forrester researcher and analyst, John Kindervag coined the term ‘Zero Trust’ which is based on the concept of ‘never trust, always verify.’ Be it inside or outside the organizations’ network, risks of cyberattacks and data breaches loom large. Zero Trust is a critical security initiative that organizations must understand and implement for an enhanced security posture.

In Zero Trust environments, as the term suggests, trust no one. For anyone trying to access the network, any device, or any entity, multifactor authentication and verification protocols are a ‘must’. 

The CISO’s Guide to Machine Identity Management

Identity is the new network perimeter and you need to validate every machine’s identity irrespective of their locations. Limiting verification to user identities presents a false notion of security, which many organizations are still struggling with. To achieve zero trust approach at scale, monitor and manage cryptographic keys and digital certificates which are used to establish machine identity. 

A Zero Trust approach to security is a combination of technologies, governing policies, and processes that controls who, what, where, and when someone connects to your network. As such, migrating to a Zero Trust security architecture should be seen as running a marathon rather than a sprint. The three key principles of the model are as follows: 

  • Authenticate and verify access: You need to substantiate the identity of the users, machines, and services who request access to your corporate network. The fact, that in 2021 85% of the network breaches involved the human elements, attests to the pressing need for a strong, multi-layered and passwordless human authentication to secure the organizational network. To validate and manage machine identities, you need to focus on keys and certificates, micro-segmentation through Next-Gen Firewalls (NGFW), implementation of privilege access management (PAM), and security analytics. 
  • Practice least privilege model: The goal of every information security program is: confidentiality, availability, and integrity. If a subject or an entity does not need access rights to complete any given task, he/she should not have access. This approach restricts each user’s access only to resources required for his/her job role. By controlling individual access, you can prevent attackers from disrupting network’s applications, sites, and devices. 
  • Document and inspect every activity: To apply a robust Zero Trust model, documenting and inspecting every call, every resource access, managing every digital certificate and key is imperative. It’s a challenge to manage these tasks manually. Hence, an automated machine identity management solution plays a pivotal role in building a Zero Trust model.

Zero Trust Model is the Future

If a person steals your identity, he can get access to all your private and sensitive information. In the same fashion, compromised machine identities enable attackers and hackers to gain access to the deep network. They can insert malicious codes into the systems, causing the total shutdown, data breaches, outages, severe losses (both revenue and reputation), and insecure traffic. It is quite evident that building a powerful machine identity management is fundamental in safeguarding the corporate network and achieving a Zero Trust model. 

With companies transitioning to the ‘New Normal’, changed mindsets, rapid innovations, digital transformations, and advanced cyber threats have compelled the security professionals to reprioritize their cybersecurity strategies. 

Accelerated adoption of cloud-first solutions to drive agile workflow, identity-first solutions to secure virtualized and legacy environments, and attaining holistic visibility of distributed identity systems, applications, and users have become increasingly important.

Consequently, the number of machines, cloud workloads, IoT, and mobile devices are too high to be controlled manually. Errors related to machine identity management, like weak ciphers, expired certificates, and fake keys are wreaking havoc in a multitude of business cross-sections, thus disturbing the Zero Trust model. 

Digital certificates and keys contribute much to a zero trust architecture, but there’s a real need for a managed solution with certificate lifecycle automation at its core. Hence, you need to invest in a next-gen machine identity management solution, which will serve as the bedrock of a robust zero trust model. 

AppViewX can help! 

Talk to an expert to know how AppViewX CERT+ powered by enterprise-grade automation platform can help you manage certificates and keys seamlessly, across hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments.

Do you want to manage your machine identities better?


  • certificate lifecycle management
  • machine identity management
  • PKI management
  • SSL Certificate Lifecycle Management
  • zero trust security

About the Author

Debarati Biswas

Senior Specialist- Product Marketing

A content creator and a lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity. She pens insightful resources to address the pain points of the readers and prospective buyers and help them make well-informed decisions.

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