Skip to main content
banner image
venafi logo

Study: Digital Transformation Drives Rapid Growth in Machine Identities

Study: Digital Transformation Drives Rapid Growth in Machine Identities

April 12, 2022 | Shelley Boose

How fast are machine identities growing in organizations? How difficult is that growth to manage? And what are the consequences of this unfettered growth? Venafi sought to answer those questions in a newly announced global study of 1,000 CIOs. The findings shows that digital transformation is driving an average of 42% annual growth in the number of machine identities. Because CIOs often have limited visibility into the number of machine identities on their networks and these critical security assets are not prioritized in IAM (Identity Access Management) and security budgets, CIOs should expect to see a sharp increase in machine identity related outages and security breaches.


Are you facing a machine identity crisis? Venafi can help you out.
Machine identity inventory to more than double to 500,000 by 2024

A whopping 100 percent of CIOs say that digital transformation is driving a rapid increase in the number of machine identities their organizations require. Machine identities enable secure communication and authentication for every part of IT infrastructure – from physical, virtual servers and IoT devices to applications, APIs and cloud native clusters and containers. Every time two machines need to communicate securely a machine identity is required.

CIOs estimate that the average organization used nearly 250,000 machine identities at the end of 2021. At current rates of growth, these same organizations can expect their machine identity inventory to more than double to at least 500,000 by 2024. Moreover, three-quarters of surveyed CIOs said that they expect digital transformation initiatives to increase the number of machine identities in their organizations by at least 26%—with more than one-quarter (27%) citing a percentage of higher than 50%.

Key survey findings include:

  • 83% of organizations suffered a machine identity related outage during the last 12 months, over a quarter (26%) say critical systems were impacted.
  • 57% of organizations experienced at least one data breach or other security incident related to compromised machine identities (including TLS, SSH keys and code signing keys and certificates) during the same time period.
New attack surface

“The realities of digital transformation mean that every business is now a software company. This means IAM [Identity Access Management] priorities need to shift to protect the machine identities required for digital transformation initiatives because these initiatives are the engines of innovation and growth,” said Kevin Bocek, vice president of security strategy and threat intelligence at Venafi.

“The unfortunate reality is that most organizations are not prepared to manage all the machines identities they need. This rapidly growing gap has opened a new attack surface – from software build pipelines to Kubernetes clusters – that is very attractive to attackers,” Bocek said.

Outdated practices

The rise in the number of machines on enterprise networks is exposing outdated machine identity management practices. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of CIOs say that rather than using a comprehensive machine identity management solution, their organizations combine multiple solutions and processes, including point solutions from certificate authorities (CAs) and public cloud providers, homegrown solutions and manual processes.

This piecemeal approach does not provide enterprise-wide view of all machine identities or provide the mechanisms needed to enforce configuration or policy requirements.

“Machine identity management is in the early stages of adoption. It’s very similar to what happened with customer and workforce identity a few years ago, but it’s orders of magnitude larger in scale and change is happening much faster,” Bocek continued.

“The challenges connected with human identity management pale in contrast to the challenges of managing machine identities. This research underscores the urgent need for every organization to evaluate their machine identity management program in order to protect their digital transformation initiatives,” he said.

About the research

Conducted by Coleman Parkes Research, Venafi’s survey evaluated the opinions of 1000 CIOs across six countries/regions: United States, United Kingdom, France, DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) and Australasia (Australia, New Zealand).

Related Posts

Like this blog? We think you will love this.
Featured Blog

The (Nation) State of Cyber: 64% of Businesses Suspect They’ve Been Targeted or Impacted by Nation-State Attacks

82% believe geopolitics and cybersecurity are intrinsically linked

Read More
Subscribe to our Weekly Blog Updates!

Join thousands of other security professionals

Get top blogs delivered to your inbox every week

Subscribe Now

See Popular Tags

You might also like

TLS Machine Identity Management for Dummies

TLS Machine Identity Management for Dummies

Certificate-Related Outages Continue to Plague Organizations
White Paper

CIO Study: Certificate-Related Outages Continue to Plague Organizations

About the author

Shelley Boose
Shelley Boose

Shelley is Director of PR and Content Marketing at Venafi. In her own words, "I help companies translate complex technologies into engaging and compelling, digital stories."

Read Posts by Author
get-started-overlay close-overlay cross icon
get-started-overlay close-overlay cross icon
Venafi Risk assessment Form Image

Sign up for Venafi Cloud

Venafi Cloud manages and protects certificates

* Please fill in this field Please enter valid email address
* Please fill in this field Password must be
At least 8 characters long
At least one digit
At last one lowercase letter
At least one uppercase letter
At least one special character
* Please fill in this field
* Please fill in this field
* Please fill in this field

End User License Agreement needs to be viewed and accepted

Already have an account? Login Here

get-started-overlay close-overlay cross icon

How can we help you?

Thank you!

Venafi will reach out to you within 24 hours. If you need an immediate answer please use our chat to get a live person.

In the meantime, please explore more of our solutions

Explore Solutions

learn more

Email Us a Question

learn more

Chat With Us

learn more