Navigating machine identities in a zero-trust world

Posted by Mike Hathaway on Dec 5, 2023 10:00:00 AM

The rise of computers and hyperconnectivity has brought with it the paramount importance of security. Every day, billions of machines and applications are exchanging information and data. These devices add increased pressure on organisations to safeguard data pathways and machine identities against unauthorised access.

Traditional security models are often inadequate to address the complexities of modern networks. This is where the concept of zero-trust emerges – a security paradigm that assumes no implicit trust and continuously verifies every access request.

At the heart of zero trust lies machine identity management (MIM). Machine identities are the digital credentials that allow devices and applications to authenticate and authorise themselves within a network. In a zero-trust environment, managing machine identities effectively is vital for maintaining a robust trust architecture.

Machine Identity

Why are machine identities so important?

As the number of devices and applications grows, the demand for machine identities has skyrocketed. Cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and containerisation have further fuelled this growth. This need for global connectivity has introduced many new devices and applications that organisations must securely integrate into networks.

The sheer volume of machine identities poses a significant challenge for business. Traditional machine identity management methods, such as manual credential issuance and static passwords, are no longer fit for purpose. They lack the security and scalability required for today’s modern business.

MIM platforms solve these challenges by offering a centralised, automated approach to managing machine identities across complex trust infrastructures.

Why is granular control critical in zero-trust environments?

Zero-trust principles dictate that every device and application must be authenticated and authorised before accessing any resources. Organisations must have granular control over machine identities to achieve this, ensuring only authorised devices and applications can access sensitive data and systems.

Traditional authorisation methods, such as network segmentation and access control lists (ACLs), often fall short of providing the level of granularity required for zero trust. MIM platforms, on the other hand, enable businesses to define fine-grained access policies based on attributes such as device type, user identity and location.

What role do MIM platforms play in securing machine identities?

MIM platforms are vital for securing machine identities in zero-trust environments. They offer comprehensive capabilities, enabling organisations to manage the entire machine identity lifecycle, including:

  • Issuance – Securely generate and issue machine identities, such as digital certificates and tokens
  • Management – Centralise machine identity management, including provisioning, rotation and revocation
  • Monitoring – Continuously monitors for suspicious activity and detects anomalies
  • Auditing – Generates detailed audit logs to track and prove compliance with security protocols and regulations

Managing machine identities in a zero-trust infrastructure can be a complex challenge. MIM platforms, certificate authorities (CAs), and public key infrastructure (PKI) solutions help organisations meet these challenges.

What are the benefits of using CAs, PKI and MIM platforms in zero-trust environments?

These tools help organisations manage machine identities in line with zero-trust security standards and improve the overall security posture. Other benefits of using CAs, PKI solutions and MIM platforms in these types of security infrastructures include:

  • Improved security – Improve the security of machine identities by automating credential issuance, revocation, and rotation
  • Reduced complexity – Reduces complexity by managing machine identities in a centralised platform
  • Increased compliance – Increases compliance with security protocols and regulations by providing a way to track and audit machine identities

Achieving zero trust with effective machine identity management

Effectively managing machine identities is critical to achieving a zero-trust security posture. By leveraging MIM platforms, organisations can gain control over machine identities, enforce granular access policies, and continuously monitor the network for threats. This strengthens their overall trust security model and reduces the risk of unauthorised access and data breaches.

Organisations around the globe rely on Ascertia ADSS PKI/CA Server to help ensure digital trust throughout the digital identity issuance and management process. As digital transformations further gain a foothold in modern-day business, solutions like ours will be vital for constructing zero-trust environments.

For more information about machine identities, download our eBook.