Machine identities govern the connection and communication of information between machines. To assure their unique identities, machines use keys and certificates – much like people employ usernames and passwords. Unfortunately, even though machine identities play a critical role in securing automated machine-to-machine communication, they are one of the least understood and weakly defended parts of company networks.
Compromised machine identities have a significant security impact on organizations. For example, cybercriminals can steal poorly protected code-signing certificates from legitimate companies and use them to sign malicious code. When signed with such a certificate, it doesn’t trigger any warnings, and unsuspecting users will mistakenly trust that the malicious code is safe to install and use.
Venafi wanted to see how IT professionals in Germany are protecting their machine identities. The study included responses from 305 security stakeholders who are responsible for encryption in German organizations. According to the study, 92% of security professionals believe the protection of machine identities is a critical security component for their organization. However, only 42% say the protection of machine identities is given equal priority when compared to human identities.
“It’s great to see that organizations are beginning to realize their machine identities need to be protected,” says Jeff Hudson, CEO of Venafi. “After all, the digital transformation of business is completely dependent on machines, not people. However, we know businesses already spend over $8 billion a year protecting human identities and almost nothing protecting machine identities.”
The study also revealed a major gap in the confidence levels of executives responsible for setting machine identity protection priorities when compared with line managers and individual contributors who are responsible for carrying out this work.
Additional findings from the study include:
82% of executives believe their organizations adequately protect the machine identities of Internet of Things devices while only 24% of individual contributors expressed similar confidence.
81% of executives feel their organizations adequately protect containers, but just 40% of individual contributors agree.
93% of executive respondents believe their organizations have invested sufficient money and resources to protect machine identities over the last year, compared with 61% for managers and 62% for individual contributors.
“Unfortunately, we continue to see the same lack of prioritization of machine identity protection in every industry and every country around the world,” concludes Hudson. “Until businesses begin to understand how critical machine identity protection is to security and begin allocating resources to it, we’re going to continue to see successful, large-scale cyberattacks.”