Just a few years ago, the number of keys and certificates most organizations needed to serve as machine identities was relatively manageable. As a matter of fact, the number of machine identities you were managing a few years ago is just a fraction of what you need today. Plus, earlier machine identities didn’t need to be updated or changed as often as they do now. And, to make matter worse, in the past unprotected machine identities weren’t targeted as frequently by cybercriminals nearly as often as they are now.
But everything has changed. These new risks have made the need to manage and protect machine identities far more urgent, but most organizations are still trying to protect them using the technology they used a decade ago.
Here are three reasons why traditional approaches to certificate management can’t keep pace with the rapid evolution of your machine identities.
- Manual tracking doesn’t scale
Despite the accelerated use of keys and certificates, more than half of organizations still use some form of manual tracking to manage their machine identities. Like these organizations, you may have tried to build an inventory of keys and certificates on spreadsheets or by using shared Intranet databases. You probably learned the hard way that this manual approach isn’t just error-prone; it’s a recurring headache. If you’re using a manual approach, you’re probably tracking only a tiny fraction of the machine identities used for a subset of critical services. This leaves the majority of your machine identities, including those that support important business functions, unmanaged and unprotected.
- Home-grown scripts are too rigid
When organizations try to automate manual machine identity processes, they often start by using custom software scripts. These programs rarely collect all the information necessary to protect and maintain machine identities and rapidly become cumbersome and difficult to maintain. But you may face an even more challenging problem with home-grown scripts. When the script developer changes positions or leaves the company, you’re left with a custom-built tool that’s difficult or impossible to adjust or use.
- Siloed management tools are too limiting
It’s easy to turn to siloed management tools, such as those provided by your CAs, to manage your certificates. Unfortunately, the information these siloed management tools delivers simply isn’t enough to keep your machine identities protected. Each tool can only manage a limited set of certificates issued by that CA. As a result, it’s difficult to prioritize security risks across all certificates or efficiently deploy limited resources to address those risks. Even more challenging, these siloed tools don’t contain information about where certificates are installed. Without this most basic information, it’s nearly impossible to track down a certificate’s location quickly.
Traditional certificate management tools are simply not dynamic enough to keep pace with the rapidly evolving world of machine identities. While they may have worked for a limited number of physical machines, they just can’t stretch to support the surging number of physical and virtual machines on enterprise networks. Relying exclusively on these tools also makes it difficult to identify weaknesses or detect vulnerabilities either in the certificates or on the servers where they’re installed.
Are you still trying to manage your machine identities manually?
If you’d like to learn more, download Machine Identity Protection for Dummies.