Edge computing is a term that is becoming increasingly popular not just as a buzzword but as a way of understanding and modeling IT infrastructure in an era of pervasive cloud computing. With the rise of edge computing has come a need for edge security.
Edge security isn’t just about securing edge computing though; it’s also potentially a new approach to defining user and enterprise security in the cloud-connected world.
While there are no shortage of meaningless buzzwords in IT, edge computing isn’t an abstract concept and neither is edge security. For both edge computing and edge security, there is an emerging set of definitions and standards.
In this Whitepaper, we look at what edge security is all about and some of the top vendors in the space.
Security considerations in edge computing
Distributing data across a large network, containing numerous devices and data centers operating far from companies’ main locations, can create problems with network visibility and control. Each device represents another potentially vulnerable endpoint, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is notorious for its lack of robust security. Other devices used in edge computing have similar problems: They are smaller than traditional data center or server setups, not designed with security in mind, and are not always updated as often as they should be.
Loopholes in edge security can provide hackers easy access to the core of a network. This is of particular concern if edge devices are rushed to market before thorough testing is performed or companies race to adopt the technology without a full understanding of the security risks involved. The smaller size of edge devices also makes them more vulnerable to being stolen or otherwise physically manipulated.
Any network in which edge computing is a major player must be maintained in a unified manner to ensure all devices receive regular updates and proper security protocols are followed. Encryption, patching and the use of artificial intelligence to monitor for, detect, and respond to potential threats are all essential, and the responsibility for implementing these security measures falls squarely on companies, not end-users.
Can edge computing make networks safer?
In an interesting paradox, wider device distribution may offer security benefits. Reducing the distance data has to travel for processing means there are fewer opportunities for trackers to intercept it during transmission. With more data remaining at the edges of the network, central servers are also less likely to become targets for cyberattacks.
The challenge lies in incorporating security into device design. Companies are beginning to focus on this and other measures for making data safer, including the use of encryption and creating solutions to manage, update, and secure IoT devices. If inherent security features are built into more end-user devices and edge data centers, it should be possible to create expansive networks with minimal vulnerabilities. However, the technology has not yet reached a point where security can be considered reliable enough to prevent the majority of attacks.
Understanding edge security
As edge computing is a growing area, so too is edge security. There are several aspects involved in edge security, including:
Perimeter security. Securing access to edge compute resources via encrypted tunnels, firewall, and access control;
Application security. Beyond the network layer, edge compute devices run applications that must be secured;
Threat detection. As edge computing is by definition not centralized, it is critically important for providers to employ proactive threat-detection technologies to identify potential issues early;
Vulnerability management. There are both known and unknown vulnerabilities that need to be managed; and
Patching cycles. Automated patching to keep devices up to date is important for reducing the potential attack surface.