Edge Computing Security in an Expanding Cybersecurity Landscape

For want of a better description for Edge Computing Security in layman’s terms, and though comparisons can sometimes be out of place – think of America’s proposed Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) – often referred to in jest as the Star Wars Program – which was intended to thwart any ballistic threat to the nation. Edge Computing Security, positioned on the very periphery of an organization’s highly interactive network, is a defence mechanism strategically deployed to repel the cybersecurity threats faced as a consequence of it interacting over the cloud and network.

What is Edge Computing Security?

To best understand Edge Computing Security, it is necessary to recognize that data operations within an organization are transported out of the organization’s centralized data centres via a number of user devices working at the ‘edge’ of the network. An example of this, in corporate terms, could be branch or satellite offices or franchises operating with data residing in the central servers of the corporate network.

Working with such sensitive data and interacting with the cloud, using devices that very often lack sophisticated cybersecurity tools / features and have lower processing power, creates a volatile security situation, rendering the organization a prime candidate for a data breach.

It is here that Edge Computing Security comes in. Simply stated, this form of security is the deploying of computing resources outside the data centre, but close to the end user devices, to protect the organization’s sensitive data. 

Why has the need arisen?

The use of the internet and in particular the slew of devices and mobile applications arising from the Internet of Things (IoT) has opened up the manner in which networks interact over the cloud. The exponential increase in these interactions outside the network, and the resultant security concerns, are the prime reasons for the advent of Edge Computing Security. Cisco predicts that there will be nearly 15 billion IoT devices connected to the internet by 2023[1]. And Forcepoint in its article[1] sums up the situation, stating that the unprecedented rise in these touchpoints is ‘fuelling a continuous need for secure platforms capable of processing the enormous amount of data being generated and consumed at the edge.’  

Implementing Edge Computing Security

It is now the norm for almost everyone in an organization to interact over the cloud in the normal course of business. With such volumes, it has become imperative for organizations to consider Edge Computing Security with a degree of discipline, paying attention to the following:

Authentication: Organizations will be required to ensure multi-layered secure authentication or enterprise-grade security, so identities of users can be verified. Authentication has its roots in Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) which presumes that every entity interacting over the network needs to be authenticated.

Encryption of data: All data making its way through the organization’s endpoints or residing in the devices of users will need high-quality encryption. Organizations can do this centrally now, though in the early years of cybersecurity, employees were required to encrypt attachments when sending out data.

Access Control: Organizations will need to stringently implement access control levels, especially access to the data servers. Rights management and audit procedures will help shore up the physical security quotient of the organization, by restricting unauthorized access to data centres.

Procedural automated audits: SOCs would need to oversee all edge computing operations, with automated tools serving up alerts of unauthorized logins, changes to configurations, and data breach attempts. For this reason, administrators in an Edge Computing System would need be given complete and unrestricted visibility of the system, if they are to be effective.

The future and the challenge for Edge Computing

Commensurate with the growing complexity of edge networks, AI-powered tools are helping augment network security via user and entity behaviour analytics systems. A larger and more encompassing solution in Security Access Service Edge (SASE) seemed imminent. Gartner opined that Edge Computing is one of many drivers for SASE. “An IoT edge computing platform is just another endpoint identity to be supported with SASE,” it explained. However, it went on to say that ‘the tools that underpin SASE are still developing and their capabilities for edge computing are immature’; Nonetheless, it was unequivocal in identifying the need, “extend[ing] SASE strategy to include edge-computing use cases” [2].

SASE aside, the biggest challenge for Edge Computing now seems to lie in the very same reason responsible for its inception – the endless spawning of IoT devices. Experts predict there will be 55 billion edge devices by 2022 as latency and resilience demands grow and 5G makes these networks possible[3]. As needs for interaction in the business world increase, the number of IoT devices working at the ‘edge’ and mobile applications interacting with the cloud will continue unabated. With it will come the not-to-be-taken lightly challenges arising from varied cloud software platforms and services interacting in different ways with ‘edge’ devices and mobile applications. 

And when you add to that the continuous monitoring of systems for updates and patches, enhanced attack vectors, weak password management, attitudinal problems to prescribed security measures within organizations, you realize that SOCs and Edge Computing Security teams have a battle on their hands. 

Aurora offers a portfolio of solutions to help you achieve both the SASE and Zero Trust frameworks to better protect your organization.

Contact us today to learn the next steps towards implementing Edge Computing Security in your environment.

[1] Forcepoint – https://www.forcepoint.com/cyber-edu/edge-security

[2] CSO Online – https://www.csoonline.com/article/3623054/edge-computing-the-security-imperative.html

[3] Tripwire : https://www.tripwire.com/state-of-security/security-data-protection/cloud/improving-edge-computing-security/

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