Zero Trust building blocks - Machine Identity Management (MIM) and Workload Protection

Zero Trust extends Identity and Access Management (IAM) beyond user identity it has to deal with machine and workload.

Having a look at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) tenants for Zero Trust in Figure 1, we can see one of the main points is "All data sources and computing services are resources" resources require protection and management.

 Figure 1



Machine Identity Management (MIM)

MIM helps to ensure that machines are properly authenticated and authorized before they are allowed to access resources. This helps to prevent unauthorized access and protect sensitive data.

Figure 2


The NIST zero trust framework defines MIM as "the process of managing the identities of machines, including their authentication, authorization, and auditing.".

There are a number of ways that MIM can be used to support a zero trust security architecture. For example, MIM can be used to:

  • Issue and manage machine certificates: Machine certificates can be used to authenticate machines and to encrypt traffic between machines. MIM can be used to issue and manage machine certificates, which helps to ensure that only authorized machines are able to access resources.
  • Rotate machine keys: Machine keys should be rotated on a regular basis to help prevent them from being compromised. MIM can be used to rotate machine keys, which helps to ensure that even if one key is compromised, the attacker will not be able to access all of the organization's resources.
  • Monitor machine identity activity: It is important to monitor machine identity activity for signs of compromise. MIM can be used to monitor machine identity activity, which helps to identify potential threats and to take action to mitigate them.

By following these best practices, you can help to ensure that your organization's resources are protected in a zero trust environment.

MIM can help with workload protection in the NIST zero trust framework in the following ways:

  • MIM can help to prevent unauthorized access to workloads by verifying the identity of machines before they are allowed to connect. This can be done using a variety of methods, such as passwords, certificates, or security tokens.
  • MIM can help to reduce the risk of data breaches and other security incidents by limiting the access that machines have to sensitive data. This can be done by using role-based access control (RBAC) to grant machines only the access they need to perform their functions.
  • MIM can help organizations to comply with industry regulations by ensuring that all machines are properly authenticated and authorized. This is important for organizations that are subject to regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

By implementing MIM, organizations can help to improve the security of their workloads and protect sensitive data in a zero trust environment.

F5 and MIM story

F5 keep it open and simple with Machine Identity Management. While F5 BIG-IP Access Policy Management (APM) can perform the below,

  • Machine Certificate authentication and Endpoint inspection to authenticate and authorize machines and users.
  • Integrates with different vendors to extend their capabilties from EndPoint to ZTAA (Zero Trust Application Access) and ZTNA (Zero Trust Network Access).


F5 and MIM vendors integrations

Here we are going to list some of the interesting integrations with other MIM vendors that helps to leverage and make the best use of the existing environment to support the organization Zero Trust strategy,

  •  F5 and Venafi , Venafi's MIM solutions are designed to help organizations:
    • Automate the management of machine identities: Venafi's solutions can automate the issuance, renewal, and revocation of machine certificates. This helps to reduce the risk of human error and to improve the efficiency of the machine identity management process.
    • Protect machine identities from attack: Venafi's solutions use a variety of security features to protect machine identities from attack. These features include certificate lifecycle management, key rotation, and machine identity monitoring.
    • Gain visibility into machine identities: Venafi's solutions provide organizations with visibility into their machine identities. This helps organizations to identify potential threats and to take action to mitigate them.

F5 BIG-IP APM extends these amazing benefits to use the machine certificate inspection prior to allow machine access to the applications. 


  • F5 and Microsoft Alliance, Microsoft whether Azure or On-premises solution provide wide range of endpoint management and machine identity solutions, below are some of the available integration options,
    • F5 and Microsoft AzureAD, F5 can smoothly integrate using its Access Guided Configurations ready templates with AzureAD to allow for the end point conditions and policies applied by Azure on endpoints to be managed and streamlined through F5 BIG-IP APM dashboard.
    • F5 and Microsoft Intune, Microsoft Intune integration with F5 extends the compliance checks and client policies applied at end point or end user to be extended to Network and Application access.


  • F5 and Okta IDaaS and SSO, F5 extends Okta Machine Identity Management (MIM) to help organizations manage the identities of their machines. Okta MIM provides a centralized platform for registering, authenticating, and authorizing machines, and it can be used to manage machines in a variety of environments, including on-premises, in the cloud, and in hybrid environments. F5 extends this through IDaaS integraton with Okta to make use of the SAML attributes identifying the machines and user status to allow or block user to access certain application or network segment.
  • F5 and Ping Identity, F5 integrates with Ping as IDaas to extend Ping Machine Identity management to Network and Application access.

In addition to the above, F5 side band connections via iRules and HTTP Connectors that allows further integrations with different providers keep it simple for organizations to make the best use of their endpoint and Machine Identity Management solutions.

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Updated Jun 13, 2023
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  • Great overview of F5's Machine Identity integrations to support Machines and Workloads. Helps think about Zero Trust strategy/deployments expansions beyond Users and thier devices.