It was 30 years ago when Terminator 2 (T2) came out. I vividly remember watching it in the movie theatre when it debuted, and I re-watched it over this past Memorial Day weekend. The premise of the film series is that civilization will be eliminated by futuristic machines uprising, and in the T2 sequel, Skynet, the 21st century supercomputer, sends a second terminator—the T1000. This one is more stealthy and more advanced, capable of rapid shape shifting and near-perfect mimicry.1
Well, sometimes life imitates art. It turns our machines have risen, and their identities are vulnerable to theft, forgery, and takeover—maybe not physically like in the movie, but digitally. These are non-human after all, and that’s part of the problem—machine identities are often unmonitored and unprotected in the same way we approach user identities.
Machine identities have a lot of responsibility such as public key infrastructure (PKI), digital certificates, and SSH encryption keys for all the secure communications we do over the Internet. And there are more machines than ever before with the addition of mobile devices, medical devices, drones, autonomous vehicles, and industrial robotics. This is one reason why PKI as a Service is a burgeoning business.
A few years ago while I was at Intel, we hosted the Intel Capital Security Summit, which was my introduction to Venafi—trailblazers in the single-minded mission to protect machine identities. There are many more vendors in the market including Keyfactor, AppviewX, and Sectigo.
The Bigger Truth
Machine identity management is a necessity. It is a top operational risk faced by all organizations. Why? Because there is nothing more dangerous or devastating than an unprotected public key.