How to Deal with Edge Computing Security Concerns

March 23

The rise of edge computing, particularly in smart cities and large facilities, has led to new approaches to securing networks and devices. The rapid digitization of industrial machinery in recent years such as in self-driving cars has opened up concerns about machines getting hacked. Here are ways security is improving for edge computing.

Security for Edge Computing

Due to the increasing trend toward big data collection in a smart infrastructure, it's important for organizations to move away from traditional blanket models of data protection in favor of securing every device. Demand is growing among large operations for data to be processed at network edges rather than cloud-based data centers.

More and more IoT devices that store data are populating networks as a solution to avoid network latency. But with more devices spread across a network, there's a growing need for more robust security.

Sending large data to the cloud can eat up plenty of bandwidth even as many companies embrace the faster and wider distribution benefits of 5G. Edge computing has been a solution to reduce network congestion as the data is processed at or near the IoT device. Since many devices are interconnected, a hacker can spread malware throughout a system by penetrating one IoT device.

Encryption is a major cybersecurity layer that should be considered for all devices on an edge network. Conducting a network audit including a review of configurations helps pinpoint vulnerabilities that require immediate attention. Once devices are activated, they need to be updated with software patches on a regular basis. Other ways to protect edge networks and devices involve certificates and multi-factor authentication.

Using the SASE Strategy

Adopting secure access service edge (SASE) infrastructure helps strengthen network security for users of wide-area networking (WAN) to access the cloud. SASE gives organizations a greater degree of control over complex networking, particularly with the help of automating various tasks in the background. It also provides network monitoring capabilities. Although less than 1 percent of organizations used SASE strategies in 2018, Gartner has forecasted a jump to 40 percent by 2024.

Some effective SASE strategies include cyber threat detection software, network segmentation and defense-in-depth (DiD) network design. Detecting threats and intrusions is a crucial step in countering a cyberattack and is the most commonly adopted form of edge computing security. Segmentation involves dividing a network into segments that are independent of each other, making a network-wide breach more improbable. DiD network sets up zones within an edge network based on trust levels.

Securing Edge Computing Devices

Edge devices with limited computing capacity pose security risks. Without a certain level of computing power, edge devices may not be reliable for collecting data accurately or securely. Placing too much stress on edge devices raises security risks. Setting up firewalls at the network edge is one way to secure edge devices, allowing for faster detection of suspicious activity.

The DiD approach to traditional network security provides multi-layered security controls to protect data hidden at the back-end. The concept of backup security layers allows a network to be more resilient against an attack. But edge computing requires more dynamic security controls. Gartner has advocated SASE as a stronger security solution for edge networks.

Turning to Standardization

Many businesses are embracing edge computing out of necessity due to the growth of big data, which has raised the bar on competition in the global marketplace. This shift toward big data as an integral part of a business model is causing businesses to redefine their business models and infrastructure designs.

One way to deal with the challenges that edge computing presents involving network complexity is to adopt standardization of security protocols and processes. You'll be able to respond to networking issues quicker. Standardizing security on your cloud platform is easier to manage and allows for faster data transmission.

Industries Focused on Securing Edge Computing

Key industries that are venturing into edge computing are smart cities, utilities, manufacturing, healthcare, automotive and telecommunications. These industries were also the first to embrace smart technology, which helped escalate the rise of IoT devices. Meanwhile, supply chains using 5G have less to worry about as far as network security.

Any operation that involves a vast number of IoT devices for data collection is potentially raising security risks. The key to protecting such networks is using high-quality threat intelligence, detection and response capabilities.

Edge networks should also embrace a zero-trust architecture, in which each device that's allowed on the network has limited access to just necessary resources for the specific user. This approach ensures that one vulnerable device doesn't cause the whole network to become infected with malware since employee error is a leading cause of breaches.

Large entities using edge computing must adopt distributed resiliency plans to counter network disruptions. That means creating redundancy that replicates data from all devices across the edge network. Distributed resiliency allows an edge network to switch to backup resources when the primary network experiences interference or downtime.

Data Encryption for Edge Devices

Some people might believe that the more complex a network is, the harder it is for hackers to penetrate. In reality, the more sensors you load on a network, the more opportunities cybercriminals have to hack the devices. That's why it's crucial that each device has its own encryption capabilities.

One of the strongest forms of edge computing security is to encrypt sensitive data as it's processed. The data is then decrypted when it's accessed by an allowed device. A system called trusted execution environments (TEE) helps overcome the vulnerabilities of data exposure before, during, and after data processing.

In the future, large organizations are expected to use blockchain technology as a cybersecurity layer. Blockchain already utilizes encryption as its base for security, so it's likely to become more prominent in the coming years for factories and other facilities relying on edge networks.

Conclusion

While not all businesses need to consider edge computing, larger entities that generate vast data should embrace it. Any organization adopting edge computing should also use digital security methods that are suited for edge environments rather than traditional cybersecurity approaches. Encryption plays a huge role in protecting data on edge devices as well as the devices themselves.


Johannes Beekman

About the author

Our CEO has more than 25 years of experience in manufacturing in the high-tech industry. Johannes has worked for 25 years in the semiconductor industry, where he worked for Philips, Infineon, and Sematech in various management positions in process development, engineering, operations, and sales and marketing. While working for Philips, he was an engineering manager in 2 wafer fab startups. And while at Sematech, he managed various international technical symposia. He has built 3 successful digital marketing companies in the past 8 years. His focus is marketing integration, marketing technology, SEO, and inbound and outbound marketing. And he has developed a content creation system that uses the AIDA model to develop content for every stage of the sales funnel. Johannes has experience working with companies in manufacturing, the high-tech industry, process industry, IT, healthcare, and legal industry, and he has published on several trade-focused websites.


Tags

cybersecurity, defense-in-depth, edge computing, edge networks, edge security, encryption, SASE


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