2021 never saw a moment of lull in cybercrime as cyberattacks took down some of the world’s most influential organizations. Data privacy and security were continuously threatened and attacked. While that’s all true, 2021 was also the year that compelled businesses to wake up and think of security differently. It brought to the boardroom table new and advanced security approaches such as zero-trust and identity-first security. So, while cybersecurity will continue to remain a top priority in 2022, it is not without the opportunity to power innovation and turn it into a value creator.
One of the biggest cybersecurity takeaways from the last year is that establishing digital trust is an absolute necessity for business growth, and it CANNOT be built with conventional security solutions. Perimeter-based security was not designed for dynamic, cloud-driven environments, and hence is failing to evolve and adapt to modern security needs. As organizations realign their security strategies in the new year, it’s essential to quit finding workarounds and invest in transformative security approaches that help protect It assets in perimeter-less environments.
To that end, there is an increased focus on taking the identity-first approach to cybersecurity in 2022. Treating identity as the new perimeter allows organizations to ensure that the right people have the right access to the right resources, regardless of the location—which forms the bedrock of the zero-trust philosophy. The identity-first approach will better equip organizations to provide secure access to resources as well as create a trusted environment for communication in an inherently untrusted world–the internet.
Ubiquitous anytime, anywhere computing requires new approaches to IAM architecture and operations. Security and risk management technical professionals must leverage identity and access management trends to further evolve IAM roadmaps and architecture as part of their 2022 initiatives.
– 2022 Planning Guide for Identity and Access Management, Gartner
One of the first steps to implementing identity-first security is to focus on the often undermined yet most crucial element of the cybersecurity framework— machine identity management.
Count on Machine Identities for a Better Cyber Defense Strategy
With IT infrastructures getting more digital and interconnected by the day, there is a sea of new physical and virtual machines, which get connected to the enterprise network. Protecting these floating assets and the data they are exchanging is a critical responsibility for enterprises. Machine identities (Digital certificates and cryptographic keys) are designed to effectively meet this requirement. While digital certificates help establish identities and authenticate all non-human entities on the network, cryptographic keys help encrypt and secure the communication between these entities. The powerful combination of identity, authentication, and encryption allows organizations to check two vital boxes on the security checklist:
- Secure access to assets wherever they are—cloud, on-premises, or the edge
- Secure data both at rest and in transit
Business Benefits of Protecting Machine Identities
- Secure digital transformation
Digital transformation offers endless growth possibilities for businesses. But to capitalize on these opportunities, organizations must first bring security up to speed with digital transformation. Implementing security controls that can defend the constantly changing ecosystem of physical and virtual assets is key for digital success. Machine identities help achieve this goal by serving as an effective tool for establishing trust in distributed environments and transitioning to digital in a secure way.
“An effective digital identity approach is about defining business benefits and the ability of an organization to leverage digitalization in a responsible way.”
– The future of digital identity (Deloitte)
- Customer trust
Customers today are growing increasingly well-informed on the importance of data security in the online world. They no longer trust businesses blindly. Trust must be earned by proving that you respect their right to privacy and are doing everything to protect it. Machine identities enable organizations to build this trust by providing customers with the proof of authenticity of the communicating organization and ensuring all communication between the two parties is encrypted, making it highly secure.
- Frictionless user experience
In a hub-and-spoke security model, security is static and centralized, interfering both with efficiency and user experience. On the contrary, machine identities allow organizations to facilitate security checks swiftly and automatically in the background wherever the assets are without any human intervention. The flexibility and mobility of machine identities inherently improve operational efficiency and user experience.
- Better control over distributed assets
Gaining control over distributed and dynamic assets in a hybrid environment is one of the major drawbacks of the perimeter-based security model. Machine identities address this challenge by helping establish unique identities for every entity on the network, allowing security teams to monitor all assets, stay on top of potential threats, and proactively remediate vulnerabilities.
- Zero-trust readiness
The zero-trust framework is touted as the new basic of cybersecurity today. President Biden’s Cybersecurity Executive order of 2021 also highlighted the importance of zero-trust architecture and pushed federal and private agencies for its widespread adoption going forward. Zero-trust rests on the concept of “never trust, always verify,” which makes identity management indispensable to successfully implementing it. As machine identities are built to enable identity verification, they serve as a solid foundation for building mature and effective zero-trust security.
Are you Paying Enough Attention to Your Machine Identities, a.k.a. Digital Certificates and Keys?
While the enterprise use cases for leveraging machine identities are far and many and the security benefits abundantly clear, very few organizations have been able to use them effectively. The reason being the lack of an efficient machine identity management solution, or, in other words, a robust certificate lifecycle management (CLM).
Most organizations today employ manual processes for managing digital certificates and keys. It’s needless to say; manual processes are wrought with inefficiencies. They do not offer visibility into the certificates in use; executing standard certificate processes such as renewals and revocations is unnecessarily time-consuming and error-prone; more importantly, they heighten security risks in the form of undocumented, rogue, and expired certificates.
As the use of digital certificates increases, certificate management will proportionally grow more complex, especially with manual processes. This will leave organizations with little control over machine identities, and therefore, little control over mission-critical assets.
According to PwC’s 2022 Global Digital Trust Insights report that 75% of C-suite respondents to the survey, including CISOs, say their companies are too complex, avoidably and unnecessarily so, and nearly as many say complexity poses “concerning” cyber and privacy risks.
Poor certificate management would also translate into missed certificate expirations, application outages, man-in-the-middle attacks, increased risk of a data breach, and tarnished brand reputation.
While the problems in CLM do sound complex, the solution necessarily isn’t. The best way to navigate certificate management challenges is to simplify CLM, and what better than automation for simplicity?
Build Your Best CLM with Automation
A CLM automation solution abstracts the complexity of certificate management and provides an easy-to-use framework for public key infrastructure (PKI) teams to perform lifecycle functions. It helps establish well-defined processes, enforce uniform policies, and standardize certificate management across the enterprise. By automating CLM, organizations can gain top-down visibility of machine identities, save time spent on repetitive manual processes, eliminate human errors, improve compliance, and fortify cybersecurity.
As identity-first security takes center stage in 2022, organizations will have to start hitting refresh on their CLM systems. With automation, organizations can build CLM systems that are easy-to-use, efficient, and secure in a very short time.
If this spurs you to action, check out AppViewX CERT+, a turnkey solution for all enterprise PKI needs. It helps discover, monitor, analyze, orchestrate and fully automate certificate lifecycle management and key management solutions to prevent data breaches. It not only simplifies enterprise PKI management but also bolsters the security posture.