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Gartner Names Top Security Trends for 2021: Machine Identity Management Makes the List

Gartner Names Top Security Trends for 2021: Machine Identity Management Makes the List

March 25, 2021 | Scott Carter

For several years now, the most security conscious organizations on the planet have recognized the importance of managing and protecting machine identities. Now, with the world moving online at an accelerated pace, organizations have embraced digital transformation in a wholesale fashion. More than ever before leading organizations rely on machine identities to secure machine-to-machine connections and communications.

Leading analysts have also begun to recognize the importance of machine identities to an organization’s security posture. This week, technology analyst firm Gartner outlined eight security trends that organizations should consider at an APAC event. “At the Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit, research vice president Peter Firstbrook said these trends are a response to persistent global challenges that all organizations are experiencing,” CRN reported.

As noted in CRN, the number eight security trend that organizations should act on was machine identity management, outlined as follows: “Increased numbers of nonhuman entities are now present in organisations, such as devices, applications, cloud services or gateways. Machine identity management aims to establish and manage trust in the identity of a machine interacting with other entities.”



But the Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit is not the first time that the analyst firm has spoken about the importance of machine identity management. In the 2020 Hype Cycle for Identity and Access Management, Gartner included machine identity management as a must-have category.

Machine identity management is not only critical, but one of the few technologies the latest Hype Cycle lists as both “High Priority” and only “2-5 years to mainstream adoption”. As the report explains, “Machine identity management aims to establish and manage trust in the identity of a machine (mobile devices and IoT devices and workloads such as applications and containers) interacting with other entities, such as devices, applications, cloud services or gateways.”  

According to the Gartner Hype Cycle, an “enterprisewide machine identity management strategy is needed to support digital transformation in modern IT environments.” The intersection of digital transformation and a global pandemic has caused every business to update its strategy. “Two-year plans” have become “Two-month plans” overnight. Infosec professionals need to establish and maintain trusted machine-to-machine connections at previously unheard-of scale, across millions and millions of automated interactions. And they must do it at lightning speed. 

The Hype Cycle stresses the need to view machine identity management as more than maintaining “certificate lifecycles”. To be effective, your IAM strategy needs to include a holistic view across digital certificates, SSH key management, code signing certificates, and cryptographic management. The report also highlights the need for an enterprise-wide strategy, rather than a siloed approach. This is especially true for organizations who are relying on their digital transformation strategies to survive and thrive in the current business environment.     

Gartner’s Hype Cycle for IAM has served as the primary strategic blueprint for CISOs and their heads of identity and access management (IAM) since at least 2005. Identity is foundational to security, and IAM is the number one technology class that CISO’s, their VPs and their teams establish as they create their enterprise cybersecurity strategies.  

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About the author

Scott Carter
Scott Carter

Scott is Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Venafi. With over 20 years in cybersecurity marketing, his expertise leads him to help large organizations understand the risk to machine identities and why they should protect them

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