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Moving to the Edge – What About Security?

Computing has been moving to the edge as companies recognize the benefits of processing closer to where data is generated. The number of connected devices is more than we have ever seen, propelled by remote workforces with mini computers aka smartphones on themselves at all times, demanding instant data transfers. Edge computing brings better performance capabilities, reduced network latency and bandwidth usage. In some instances, for example when involving autonomous vehicles or critical medical devices, latency can prove very dangerous, perhaps a difference in life or death, making edge computing necessary for localized data processing, allowing for faster response times and only relevant data sent back to the cloud for storage.

As edge computing becomes more necessary due to increased IoT consumption, so does the need for security. So, how does your business address security when it comes to edge computing?

Understand the Security Issues

It is important for you to be aware of the security issues that can arise from edge computing. By having so many different technologies and devices operating and interacting with each other and data at the edge, the attack surface is always expanding, opening businesses up for greater threats, like distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that disrupt business and wreak havoc. The number of these types of attacks spiked in Q2 of 2020, with Kaspersky’s quarterly DDoS attacks report showing a 217% increase since Q2 of last year, making this a real area of concern.

Physical security also becomes more relevant in edge computing because data is moving outside of secure data centers housing the mainframes and servers. Attackers can more easily access physical devices to tamper with or even add or swap out devices to gain entry.

Devices play a big risk in compromising the safety of an organization. Unsecure, poorly configured devices offer up easy entry point for attackers looking to infiltrate the business network and steal valuable information. Because edge computing is still developing and some organizations were too quick to implement, proper security protocols and standards are not always in place when it comes to employees and device management. Employees are outside a secure office environment with devices connected to the network at all times with access to sensitive data, and edge computing makes the data closer to the business or the devices, making data quicker to retrieve.

Another factor when talking devices is the task of properly managing the multiple providers often involved in edge computing implementation, from cloud and internet providers to carriers and device manufacturers. Businesses need to understand the security measures and service level agreements available from these providers to ensure all services and applications are secure. Security needs to be covered from end-to-end, with plans clearly establishing where responsibility lies at each point in deployment.

Bring Security to the Edge

Edge computing abolishes the idea of physical or network perimeters, making zero trust security the go-to and must-have approach. Every single device on the network needs to be treated as a potential attacker until it is verified as a trusted and authorized user with granted access. Microsegmentation is a key component in a zero trust model by getting more granular and creating secure zones in data centers and cloud environments to isolate workloads and secure them, individually. Discuss the most fundamental risks to your customer’s business, focusing on the most critical applications and any compliance infrastructures.

Monitoring and threat detection are very important and should be moved closer to the entities that need protection, users and devices. Review your current detection service to make sure that you have full visibility into all users and devices attempting to gain entry to the network and access data. Secure access service edge, or SASE (pronounced “sassy”), is a concept coined by Gartner that is a unified system with networking and security functionalities in a common platform. SASE brings complete end-to-end protection from multiple wireless devices all the way to the servers, and vice versa. Technologies work together to provide a secure network, combining SD-WAN, next generation firewalls (NGFWs), secure web gateway (SWG), data loss prevention, SSL inspection, secure remote access and zero trust access.

The Future of the Edge

The amount of data being produced is only growing and so will the edge compute market. Gartner predicts that by the end of 2023 more than half of all large enterprises will be using edge computing for six or more use cases. As the number of IoT devices — such as mobile phones, virtual assistants, laptops, tablets, building sensors, drones, security cameras, and wearable health sensors — heads toward exceeding 70 billion by 2025, according to Statista, edge-computing applications will also increase. The adoption and availability of 5G will further drive edge computing and the need for adequate security.

Creating a Strong Security Plan

The best strategy to devise an effective plan and implement the right security solutions is to create a layered security approach and do ongoing testing and evaluations. You need to be having constant conversations and touchpoints around security. Submit a Request a Consultation form for a free IT and security audit to protect your business.

Download our latest white label document “Securing the Edge” to talk to learn about the importance of setting up proper security when edge computing.