Certificate-related outages frequently impact critical business applications and services

Published: Wednesday, 03 April 2019 13:52

Venafi has released the results of a study of the scale and frequency of certificate-related outages on critical business infrastructure. Over 550 chief information officers from the US, UK, France, Germany and Australia participated in the study.

Certificate-related outages harm the reliability and availability of vital network systems and services while also being extremely difficult to diagnose and remediate. Unfortunately, the vast majority of businesses routinely suffer from these events. In fact, according to the study, almost two-thirds of organizations (60 percent) experienced certificate-related outages that impacted critical business applications or services within the last year. In addition, 74 percent faced similar events within the last 24 months.

The study also found that:

“Recently, a machine identity-related outage impacted 32 million cellular customers in the UK, and estimates suggest this could have cost the company over $100 million,” said Kevin Bocek, vice president, security strategy and threat intelligence at Venafi. “Ultimately, companies must get control of all of their certificates; otherwise, it’s simply a matter of time until one expires and causes a debilitating outage. CIOs need greater visibility, intelligence and automation of the entire life cycle of all certificates to do this.”

While humans rely on usernames and passwords to identify themselves and gain authorized access to applications and services, machines use digital certificates to serve as machine identities in order to communicate securely with other machines and gain authorized access to applications and services. This year, organizations will spend over $10 billion to protect and manage passwords, but they will spend almost nothing to protect and manage machine identities. Most organizations do not have a clear understanding of how many machine identities are in use, which devices are using them, and when they will expire. This lack of comprehensive visibility and intelligence leads to outages.

Bocek added: “Since certificates control authentication and communication between machines, it is important not to let them expire unexpectedly. And because the symptoms of a machine identity-related outage mimic many other hardware and software failures, diagnosing them is notoriously time-consuming and difficult.”