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Machine identities are the foundation of security

Today’s chief information and digital officers face a rapidly changing environment the likes of which haven’t been imaginable until very recently. Core to this challenge is architecting a technical business strategy that increases the competitive posture of their organization in a world that is evolving in orders of magnitude faster than even one year ago. Businesses that can deliver innovation faster in today’s hypercompetitive environment now have an asymmetric business advantage. 

Accelerating innovation means providing software developers with the freedom to run in any cloud, using the architectures and design patterns that are the most agile and adaptive. At the same time, network perimeters have collapsed; there is no “enterprise network.” Businesses are now made up of cloud instances, containers running in Kubernetes, software-as-a-service accessed through APIs and an array of applications running in data centers.  All the software and devices businesses run—from physical and virtual devices to containers in the cloud and APIs (aka machines)—are in a constant state of change. More importantly, every machine in this constantly changing ecosystem needs a unique identity to authenticate and communicate securely. And none of the trends driving these changes show any sign of slowing. 

Businesses are being redefined by developers using software and computing power, most of which is often not owned by their organization or safe behind a firewall. The complexity, variety and number of these machines for any single business is mind-blowing. Now imagine the number and variety of machines required to connect two or more businesses together so that they can create a seamless customer experience or a complete a transaction. 

These radically transformative changes have made identity the keystone of security for humans and machines. The fundamental question in radically virtual, distributed systems and data is how one authenticates and controls access. Which machines and which people have access to which systems and which data? The only plausible answer must be made based on the machine’s or the person’s identity. This fundamental question now defines how we do business.   

The security industry has spent decades architecting human identity systems to manage usernames and passwords, with the recent addition of biometrics and multifactor authentication. To stay competitive and increase the pace of innovation, CIOs must put systems in place to secure the identities of machines—or risk leaving their businesses vulnerable.

Machine identity problems are rampant even in the most security-conscious organizations. Recent examples abound of companies losing millions of dollars because of a TLS certificate-related outage or having data stolen because an unknown SSH key created a persistent backdoor that cyber criminals used to infiltrate an organization. And this doesn’t include the time and resources wasted when developers take valuable time away from their core development initiatives to build homegrown scripts to manage their machine identities—and these solutions typically bypass corporate security policy, don’t scale and require ongoing oversight. 

Cyber criminals are well aware that most machine identity management systems are weak, and they are already taking advantage of this situation. Attacks and vulnerabilities that leverage machine identities have grown 478% over the last five years, and annual worldwide economic losses due to poor protection of machine identities are estimated to reach $71.9 billion. In fact, these risks have become so serious that Gartner recently created a new category for security products to protect businesses and enable developers: machine identity management.

This is why CIOs are looking for a machine identity management partner that engineers integrated, automated processes that are simple, secure, and consistent across all clouds, environments and platforms. They’re also looking for a partner that can deliver guaranteed outcomes—especially for certificate outages, which are the most common symptom of weak machine identity management.

Venafi is the inventor and the world’s leading provider of software and cloud services that protect machine identities, from Kubernetes in the cloud to virtual machines in the data center. More than 3,500 organizations use Venafi every day to simplify, automate and scale machine identity management. Venafi protects trillions of dollars in transactions by the world largest banks, payment providers, retailers, healthcare providers, logistics services and more. Our open source projects are downloaded millions of times a day for use in production, dev and test environments around the world.

Because machine identities are used in every part of your entire enterprise, Venafi has built an extensive ecosystem that allows our platform to seamlessly integrate with more than a thousand technologies, such as those from F5, Check Point and Gigamon, to name a few, all of which include exclusive capabilities only available to Venafi customers. In addition, Venafi integrates seamlessly with a who’s-who of industry leaders including Hashicorp, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, CyberArk, Citrix, Palo Alto Networks and IBM, among others. Venafi actively promotes innovation with large and small open source developers through a $12M Machine Identity Management Development Fund that’s already delivered new innovation from more than 40 developers.

We are the coauthors of multiple NIST standards that provide the foundation of best practices for machine identity management programs that thousands of organizations around the world have adopted. We are also the only machine identity management provider certified to Common Criteria, one of the most rigorous security standards in the world.

Venafi is so certain we can solve our customers’ machine identity management challenges that we provide a No Outage Guarantee—the only one in the industry. This makes it easy for our customers to invest in machine identity management programs without risk.

If you’re interested in finding out more how to begin managing your machine identities at scale, click here.