Machine identities are the unique credentials that devices use to authenticate themselves and establish trust. While humans have usernames and passwords, machines use keys and certificates to authorize security connections. These authenticated credentials certify that a specific machine is authorized to access a network or collection of online resources.
Machine identities also maintain trust and integrity in device-to-device communications, ensuring they are not susceptible to third-party infiltration. Without unique, identifiable machine identities, there would be no way of protecting the billions of secure connections between machines needed to power our digital economy.
For a long time, only physical devices like servers and then desktop and laptop computers needed to have machine identities. Today, the situation could not be more different. Load balancers and web applications, along with IoT devices and edge servers all need unique identities. Plus, software development and cloud native infrastructures also require machine identities to ensure authenticated access to new types of machines, such as APIs, cloud instances, microservices and containers.
Most identity and access management (IAM) programs are narrowly focused on protecting usernames and passwords. But many IAM programs do not include protection for machine identities. That oversight makes machine identities a high-value target for cybercriminals because they know most organizations don’t properly protect these critical security assets.
All it takes is the compromise of one machine identities for dangerous threat actors to access to your entire network. And large organizations rely on hundreds of thousands or even millions of machine identities. Even one undermanaged machine identity can allow threat actors to wreak havoc on your network while remaining entirely undetected. A robust cybersecurity strategy that incorporates machine identity management allows you to detect machine identity threats before it’s too late.
Digital transformation is driving record growth in the number of machines that need identities. As a result, large enterprises can have hundreds of thousands of machine identities, which is far too many for anyone to maintain with perfect accuracy. A surprising number of security teams still rely on manually tracking and updating machine identities, a practice that is impossible to sustain in today’s digitally transformed cyber world. Missing the renewal of even one certificate could result in a financially devastating website outage or damaging cyber-attack.
How does a machine identity management platform mitigate these risks? You’ll get complete visibility of all machine identities on your network, as well as the automation and scalability you need to track and manage them. The right solution will give you all of that, plus the ability to boost speed and efficiency of machine identity management, prevent certificate misuse and compromise, eliminate certificate outages, and deliver a faster and more secure cloud native infrastructure!