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Financial services IT pros overconfident in machine identity protection

Financial services IT pros overconfident in machine identity protection

Banking & FinanceTop Stories

Venafi, a leading provider of machine identity protection, has announced the results of a June 2018 commissioned study titled Securing The Enterprise With Machine Identity Protection. Conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Venafi, the study examined the views of 116 IT security professionals from financial services and insurance organisations in the US, UK, Germany, France and Australia.

A key finding from the Venafi study reveals that 80% of financial services respondents who are responsible for identity and access management (IAM) believe automated communications between machines on their organisations’ networks are mostly or completely secure.

Meanwhile, 71% of respondents believe effective protection of machine identities is critical to the long-term security and viability of their companies. However, on average, financial services organisations are only tracking 43% of the most common types of machine identities.

The study assessed the number of respondents who follow the progress of specific machine identities and found the following:

  • Only 56% track cloud platform instance machine identities
  • Just 55% track physical server machine identities
  • Less than half (48%) track mobile device machine identities
  • Roughly a third (34%) track the machine identities of SSH keys
  • Only 28% percent track the machine identities of containers
  • Just 26% track the machine identities of microservices

“Financial services organisations have more work to do in order to make sure their machine identities are protected, and we know these issues are not unique to a specific industry,” said Jeff Hudson, CEO of Venafi. “Despite the importance of machine identities, most organisations are overwhelmed by the sheer number of them on their networks and they don’t have the visibility, intelligence or automation necessary to take the necessary steps to close the gaping hole in security.”

Additional findings from the study include:

  • A total of 41% say the lack of system administrator focus on machine identity use and protection is a major machine identity protection challenge, and 41% say a major challenge is the lack of automated processes to inventory machine identities
  • A total of 60% of financial services firms are concerned about internal data theft or loss as a consequence of weak machine identity protection. In addition, 58% are concerned about customer data theft or loss.
  • A total of 45% believe machine identity protection will be a higher priority than human identity protection within the next two years.

Managing user and machine identities, as well as privileged access to business data and applications, is an enormous undertaking that has serious security ramifications. Traditionally, the focus for IAM programs has been people-centric. However, with the recent increase in the number of machines on enterprise networks, shifts in technology, and the latest computing capabilities, a new set of challenges has emerged, requiring an increased focus on the protection of machine identities.

From Securing The Enterprise With Machine Identity Protection, Forrester Consulting, June 2018: “Newer technologies, such as cloud and containerisation, have expanded the definition of machine to include a wide range of software that emulates physical machines.

“Furthermore, these technologies are spawning a tidal wave of new, rapidly changing machines on enterprise networks. To effectively manage and protect machine identities, organisations need: complete visibility of all machine identities across their networks; actionable intelligence about each machine identity; and the capabilities to effectively put that intelligence into action at machine speed and at scale.”

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