Edge computing is revolutionizing the way businesses operate. This has triggered a massive uptake of edge computing products and services. A recent study by Research and Markets concluded that the edge computing market will exceed $155.90 billion by 2030.
Unlike many other computing technologies, where there is often irrational excitement, edge computing delivers real benefits to enterprises. By bringing processing power and data storage closer to the user, edge computing enables companies to improve performance and responsiveness. The result is increased productivity, lower costs, and happier customers.
However, with this new era of computing comes new security risks. Edge devices are often located in remote and difficult-to-protect locations. They are also often connected to critical infrastructure and systems, making them attractive targets for attackers.
In fact, edge computing represents a radical shift in the IT paradigm for most organizations. There is a significant learning curve and a myriad of complexities that have the potential to lead to severe security issues if not adequately mitigated.
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What is Edge Security?
Edge security is the protection of data stored or processed at the edge of a network. The edge can be defined in different ways, but generally, it includes any device or location that is outside of a company’s direct control. This could consist of sensors, devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), and mobile devices.
Data is typically stored in a centralized location, such as a data center or the cloud. With edge computing, data is instead processed and kept closer to where it’s being collected. This has several advantages, including reducing latency and increasing reliability and resiliency. However, it also comes with new security challenges. These risks include:
- Data Loss: As one of the biggest risks associated with edge computing, data loss can occur if a device is lost or stolen or if it’s damaged or corrupted.
- Data Breaches: Data breaches can occur if devices are not properly secured or if they’re hacked.
- Performance Issues: Performance issues can happen if there’s not enough bandwidth available or if there are too many devices accessing the same data.
What Drives Edge Security?
Data has become one of the most valuable commodities in a rapidly digitizing world. As such, safeguarding data has become a top priority for organizations of all sizes. Edge security is a type of data security that focuses on protecting data at its source — the edge of the network. By preventing data breaches at the edge, organizations can reduce the risk of data leakage and unauthorized access.
Edge security is driven by the need to protect data in transit as well as data at rest. In many cases, data breaches occur when data is in transit, making edge security an essential component of data security.
Data integration is another driver of edge security. As data is increasingly collected from various sources, it becomes more difficult to keep track of all of the data and ensure it is secure. Edge security can help to address this challenge by providing a centralized platform for managing data security. By understanding the drivers of edge security, organizations can develop more effective data security strategies and safeguard their most valuable asset.
In addition, mobile and IoT applications are growing exponentially, which means there is an increased demand for platforms that are highly accessible, have low latency, perform well, are secure, and can scale easily. These platforms must also handle the large amount of data being generated and used at the edge.
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Aspects of Edge Security
There are several aspects to consider when implementing edge security solutions. These include:
Securing the perimeter
Technical safeguards are critical to perimeter security. These can include measures like firewalls, intrusion detection systems, encrypted tunnels, and access control.
Physical safeguards are also necessary, such as protecting areas where edge devices are located by using physical barriers like secured rooms, fences, and gates and installing intruder alarms where possible.
The bottom line is that security solutions must be comprehensive and take into account all of the different aspects of perimeter security. Otherwise, gaps in the security system can be exploited by attackers. In addition, edge perimeter security solutions must constantly evolve to stay ahead of the latest threats.
Edge applications are another key area to focus on. If they are not adequately secured, it can expose the business to a range of potential threats.
There are a number of different ways to secure applications, and the right solution will depend on the business’s specific needs. However, standard methods include encryption, user authentication, application firewalls, code signing and integrity checking, and application programming interface (API) security.
Edge applications are also often built on legacy systems, making them more difficult to secure. Therefore, it is also important to consider how edge applications interact with legacy systems and what security measures need to be implemented to protect them.
In addition, it’s essential to conduct regular security testing of edge applications. This will help to identify any vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit.
Network security teams must manage vulnerabilities throughout the entire life cycle of an edge device or system. This includes identifying, assessing, patching, and monitoring for vulnerabilities.
It’s essential to have a comprehensive vulnerability management strategy that covers all aspects of the edge device or system.
One of the most important aspects of keeping edge networks secure is ensuring all devices are up-to-date with the latest security patches. However, installing security patches can be difficult for several reasons:
- Many edge devices are located in remote or difficult-to-reach locations, making it challenging to physically access them to install patches.
- Many edge devices have limited storage, making it difficult to install large security patches.
- Many edge devices are resource-constrained and have limited computing power, so installing large security patches is a problem.
As a result, it’s crucial to have a patch management strategy that considers these challenges. This includes having a process for identifying and installing only the most critical security patches promptly. It’s also imperative to have a plan to deal with unpatched vulnerabilities.
One way to address these challenges is by using automated patch management software. Automated patch management software can help organizations keep their edge devices up-to-date with the latest security patches by automatically downloading and installing patches as they become available.
This reduces the potential surface attacks and the workload on IT staff, who can focus on core business tasks.
Early threat detection
As edge computing is distributed and decentralized, providers must have proactive threat detection technologies to identify potential breaches as early as possible. Edge security solutions must be able to detect threats in real-time and send alerts to the appropriate personnel.
Organizations must also have a plan for how to respond to potential threats. This includes having the right people and resources to investigate and mitigate the threat.
It’s also critical to have an incident response plan that covers all aspects of the edge network. For example, the plan would include identifying the different types of incidents that could occur, the appropriate response to every kind of incident, and the roles and responsibilities of each team member.
By having a comprehensive edge security solution in place, enterprises can help protect their data and systems from potential threats. Edge security solutions must constantly evolve to stay ahead of the latest threats and vulnerabilities. By taking an active approach to security, enterprises can help ensure their edge networks are secure and resilient.
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Edge Computing and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)
Given recent edge networking and security advancements, it would be remiss to discuss edge security without mentioning SASE (secure access service edge). First defined by Gartner in 2019, SASE is a new architecture that combines networking and security functions into a single, integrated solution.
SASE solutions are designed to address the unique challenges of edge computing, which include the need for real-time data processing, low latency, and high bandwidth. In addition, SASE solutions are designed to provide a consistent security posture across all locations and devices.
SASE solutions are built on a number of technologies, including software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), and cloud security. These technologies work together to provide a unified, end-to-end security solution.
SASE solutions have been adopted widely, as predicted by Gartner in 2019. They hold promise as a way to address the unique challenges of edge computing. As more organizations move to the edge, we expect to see more SASE solutions being developed and deployed.
Edge Security Tips for Enterprises
We summarize the edge computing security tips for enterprises below:
- Edge computing security starts with a proactive and comprehensive security strategy. This strategy should take into account the unique characteristics of edge deployments, such as distributed locations, limited resources, and constrained connectivity.
- Access control and surveillance are critical for edge security. Enterprises should consider implementing solutions such as biometrics, access control lists, and intrusion detection systems. Furthermore, video surveillance can be used to monitor activity at edge locations.
- Control edge configuration and operation from central IT operations. This helps to ensure that edge devices are properly configured and only authorized individuals have access to them.
- Establish audit procedures to track changes made to edge devices and configurations. This will help to quickly identify any unauthorized changes that may have been made.
- Monitor and log all edge activity. Activity should be monitored in real-time in order to identify any suspicious behavior quickly. Furthermore, logs should be regularly reviewed to identify any patterns or trends.
- Vulnerability management is essential for edge security. Enterprises should implement regular patch cycles to keep edge devices up-to-date with the latest security fixes. In addition, they should consider using vulnerability scanning tools to identify potential weaknesses.
- SASE solutions can provide an additional layer of security for edge deployments. These solutions combine multiple security functions, such as firewall, VPN, and data loss prevention (DLP), into a single platform. As a result, SASE can help enterprises simplify their edge security architecture while reducing costs.
As more and more organizations move to the edge, it’s important to have a comprehensive security strategy in place. Edge computing comes with a unique set of challenges, but by following these tips, enterprises can mitigate the risks and reap the benefits of this new technology.
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