Visibility, Control, and Automation: The Three Key Ingredients for Managing Machine Identities

There are only two types of Companies: those that have been hacked, and those that will be.”

-Robert Mueller, FBI Director

The above statement by Robert Mueller stands as a mirror to the state of cybersecurity enterprises are experiencing today. 

With “go digital or die” becoming the new reality, all industries are racing the road to digital transformation at breakneck speed. This strategic shift is radically changing the way businesses think and work. And that’s especially true for cybersecurity.

The rapid adoption of cloud, DevOps, and the work-from-anywhere model are leading to an exponential growth of machines, both physical and virtual. Protecting this interconnected, highly distributed, and constantly changing ecosystem of machines is beyond the scope of the network perimeter and legacy firewalls. Relying solely on the conventional hub-and-spoke security model puts enterprises at a high risk of a data breach.  

Enterprises looking for new trust parameters in digital-driven IT environments are increasingly turning to machine identities. Security leaders are beginning to realize that with network perimeter being broken, the only way to extend security to assets regardless of where they are located—is via machine identities.

Gartner highlighted the importance of machine identities by calling out machine identity management as a “critical security capability” in its list of Top Security and Risk Trends for 2021.

Control Your Certificates Before They Go Rogue!

In an environment replete with virtual machines, containers, cloud applications, and IoT that are constantly communicating with the network and with each other, establishing trust for each entity is critical. Machine identities which include digital certificates and keys, help establish this trust by authenticating and authorizing every entity on the network, regardless of where they are, before providing them with network access. Machine identities are also the true enforcers of the zero-trust philosophy that demands strict authentication to ensure that “the right people have the right access to the right data.” 

According to an estimate by Forrester, machine identities are growing twice as fast as human identities. Most enterprises today, on an average, use and manage thousands of certificates in their network infrastructure. As digital transformation progresses and machine identities further grow in scale and variety, keeping them secure across the cloud, on-premises, OT/IoT, and containerized environments becomes a humungous challenge. When machine identities are not well-protected, they become the weakest links and the biggest threats to enterprise security.

Managing Machine Identities

Fundamentally, there are two critical reasons why enterprises today struggle with machine identity management:

  • Lack of visibility of the certificate infrastructure
  • Lack of control over certificate lifecycle processes

Most enterprises typically manage certificates and keys using manual processes involving spreadsheets and homegrown monitoring tools. Manual processes are slow, error-prone, and highly inefficient. They introduce vulnerabilities every step of the way, right from discovering certificates to monitoring to renewing them. They offer little to no visibility of distributed certificates, making it difficult for organizations to track them for expiry, crypto-standards, and identity thefts. Lack of consistent and policy-backed certificate management often results in undiscovered, undocumented, and rogue certificates that eventually expire or get compromised, leading to outages and security breaches. 

What it Takes to Manage Machine Identities Efficiently

  • Gain holistic visibility into your digital certificates

Visibility is non-negotiable for efficient certificate management. The first step towards achieving visibility is to discover certificates installed across various devices and applications in the network. Automated discovery helps eliminate rogue, unknown, and unmanaged certificates that serve as easy targets for hackers. Along with discovery, enterprises must also have holistic visibility of certificates distributed across multi-cloud, heterogeneous environments. Having centralized visibility helps capture necessary information such as locations, owners, associated applications, expiry dates, and signatures. This accelerates incident response as well as helps proactively identify and fix certificate issues to avoid outages and security breaches.

Download AppViewX Smart Discovery Solution Brief to learn how it helps scan your network to discover and document every certificate and key in real-time to build holistic visibility. 

  • Take control of certificate lifecycle management with automation

Most certificate lifecycle management problems start and end with manual processes. End-to-end automation, on the other hand, dramatically simplifies the entire process by eliminating the need for human intervention at every step. All certificate processes such as discovery, monitoring, renewal, enrollment, revocation, and provisioning can be carried out seamlessly and efficiently with automation. This helps keep machine identities up-to-date, eliminate unnecessary outages, and, more importantly, mitigate the risk of a data breach.

Take digital security to the next level with AppViewX Next-Gen Machine Identity Automation Platform 

The AppViewX Next-Gen Machine Identity Automation Platform is purpose-built for orchestrating and governing digital identities – digital certificates and keys – of machines – devices, workloads, applications, containers, and the Internet of Things. Powered by AppViewX CERT+, the enhanced platform addresses security compliance driven by exponential growth in machine identities by eliminating manual management, securing storage and distribution, and ensuring end-to-end visibility. 

Download the new CISO’s Guide to Machine Identity Management to learn how enterprises can step into the agile world of cloud and containers with safe and secure machine identity management and also understand the role automation plays in bolstering cybersecurity.

Let’s get you started on your certificate automation journey

Tags

  • certificate lifecycle management
  • Certificate Management
  • SSL Certificate Management

About the Author

Krupa Patil

Product Marketing Specialist

A content creator focused on providing readers and prospective buyers with accurate, useful, and latest product information to help them make better informed decisions.

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