Jeff Hudson, CEO, Venafi
There are two actors on a network: people and machines. In most cases, the majority of our attention is paid to people, or human identity management issues. Enterprises invest a significant amount of time into protecting—human identities—approximately eight billion dollars a year—but they often have a blind spot about protecting machine identities. In the last few years, however, there has been an explosion in the number and types of machines used within organizations. IT teams face great difficulty monitoring and defending their digital environments against security threats that specifically target machine identities.
While people use usernames and passwords to identify themselves, machines use keys and digital certificates, such as TLS/SSL certificates, SSH keys and code signing certificates, to establish authenticity. However, these powerful assets are routinely untracked, unmanaged, and poorly secured, which make them an enticing target for cybercriminals. With machine identities, bad actors can bypass security controls, escalate privileged access to networks and data, and even establish hidden or concealed encrypted communication tunnels on networks.
Consequently, the proper management of machine identities is essential to guarantee the confidentiality of the information that flows between authorized machines. But with the deck seemingly stacked in the attacker’s favor, what can enterprises do to effectively protect their machine identities?
Jeff Hudson, CEO of Venafi, the company that invented machine identity management, says, “First, you need to understand machine identities. Without this understanding, you won’t be able to intelligently orchestrate the management of complex, rapidly changing sets of machine identity data.” Venafi provides global visibility of machine identities and their associated risks for the extended enterprise—including on-premises, mobile, virtual, cloud and IoT—at machine speed and scale. “We put intelligence into action with automated remediation that reduces the security and availability risks connected with weak or compromised machine identities. We safeguard the flow of information to trusted machines and prevent communication with machines that are not trusted,” adds Hudson. Ultimately, Venafi is at the forefront of making machine identity management a core part of enterprise security.
Handling the Machine Identity Crisis within Healthcare
Healthcare organizations often struggle with meeting the strict data protection requirements in their highly regulated industry. With HIPAA, PCI DSS, and other standards and regulations, effective data protection is critical to the viability of any business in this sector. To that end, Venafi provides organizations with visibility, intelligence and automation of PKI and digital certificate resources, protecting them from critical infrastructure outages and data breaches—all while ensuring they meet compliance requirements. The firm creates a centralized, encrypted repository that keeps keys and certificates safe. With Venafi, organizations gain the visibility and policy enforcement capabilities they need to remain compliant. In addition, the Venafi Platform provides organization with a centralized system for the management and distribution of code-signing certificates and secure processes to prevent the use of certificates with malware.
We put intelligence into action with automated remediation that reduces the security and availability risks connected with weak or compromised machine identities
The challenge of machine identity management was already a growing concern before the global COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. But the changes in businesses brought about by COVID-19 have accelerated the digital transformation of organizations across sectors. Now it’s imperative that machine identity management is a core component of their cybersecurity strategy. Today, the rise of remote working and the migration of critical business functions to the cloud has created new layers of complexity and urgency. “There is no more network perimeter; the firewall model of security has been obliterated. We live in a world that is dominated by machines, and only a handful of organizations have made the investments needed to manage these identities effectively,” mentions Hudson. Venafi’s solutions give businesses the visibility, intelligence, and automation needed to protect machine identities.
Gartner Recognition and the Venafi Difference
Every critical business application requires machine identities, which means enterprises need to have a comprehensive machine identity management strategy more than ever before. Venafi not only invented the machine identity management category, the company holds more than 30 patents in the space. “In fact, Gartner gave a stamp of approval on the category we created and validated it last year. In the 2020 Hype Cycle for Identity and Access Management, Gartner listed machine identity management as a ‘high priority,’ requiring its own category,” states Hudson.
Commenting on the different factors that set Venafi apart in the marketplace, Hudson explains, “We have a technology ecosystem—completely future-proof—with hundreds of partners, thousands of proven integrations, and endless possibilities.” This ever-growing Venafi ecosystem brings industry leaders together, so they can develop more ways to protect machine identities across organizations. In addition, the firm has built all of its systems, software, and culture around work anywhere, anytime and anyplace dynamic. As a result, Venafi didn’t experience any form of setback during the pandemic. “We were able to collaborate and address all of our customers’ issues head-on,” adds Hudson.
Venafi takes their customers’ security incredibly seriously. The company frequently invests in developing technologies to manage and protect machine identities. “Machine identity management is at the core of everything that Venafi does,” asserts Hudson. In the last year alone, the firm has made several major enhancements to its software, including integrations with various new technologies used by healthcare providers to advance their systems. Moreover, the firm is also Common Criteria certified.
Making Encryption More Secure
Today, the world’s most demanding, security-conscious Global 5000 organizations and government agencies rely on Venafi. Acknowledging Venafi’s contribution to the cybersecurity world, a leading private equity firm, Thoma Bravo, invested in the company last year, taking Venafi’s value to a higher level, making it a cybersecurity “unicorn.” Thoma Bravo’s contribution will play a critical role in accelerating Venafi’s technology innovation and channel growth as the company continues to expand its machine identity management footprint. In its quest to create a world where all machine identities are managed and protected, Venafi will continue to invest in its R&D and make new enhancements to its offering. In addition, the company actively partners with its customers and invests in their ongoing success. “Until now, we as a society have been under spending when it comes to security. It is time businesses realize that this is a never-ending battle against the bad guys and that they must act quickly,” concludes Hudson.