Edge computing: Take the edge off cracks in system

Sound practices can help address security concerns posed by the platform

Edge computing: Take the edge off cracks in system
Neelesh Kripalani portrait

By Neelesh Kripalani

Edge computing is gaining traction quickly, with some analysts deeming it the next great revolution in technology. IDC has predicted that the worldwide edge computing market will grow to $250.6 billion by 2024. With edge computing, what you are effectively doing is cutting the distance to computing power. Instead of going all the way to the cloud, you are running processes on the edge server or even local devices such as IoT devices.

Processing data locally using edge devices and servers distributes power across a network and reduces bandwidth requirements at central locations. This enables organisations to add more and more devices in remote locations without any substantial monitoring strategy. But the increased connectivity and the number of devices used for edge computing create more room for cybercriminals to exploit the system’s vulnerabilities. It also creates problems with network visibility and control for organisations. Any loophole in edge security can provide hackers easy access to the core of a network.

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Security challenges of the edge
Edge computing removes resources from the protective physical access and network security umbrella that the data centre provides.It creates an increased attack surface by locating computational resources closer to data sources. When endpoints multiply, the threat landscape expands accordingly. The IoT and other internet-connected devices are known for vulnerabilities caused by default passwords. Thus, multi-factor authentication needs to be enabled from a security point of view.

Data that is gathered and processed at the edge lacks the hardened physical security of more centralised assets. By simply removing a disk drive from an edge resource, or by copying data from a simple memory stick, vital information can potentially be compromised.Physical tampering of devices is also a likely possibility in an edge computing architecture. The fact that there are a greater number of devices spread across various places, makes physical attacks that much easier to carry out for cyber threat actors.

What organisations need to do
One of the most important things to do is implement Zero Trust Edge Access wherein the cybersecurity team allows minimal or only the required amount of access for each connected device. This way, it’s much harder for a hacker to inflict damage on other resources if one device is compromised. Another important security upgrade is Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architecture. SASE makes it easier to look into and control networks by reducing complexity and automating background security tasks, as it brings wide-area networking (WAN) and network security services into a single cloud solution. Further, organisations must implement controls to prevent the dangers of physical tampering of devices. This includes adding malware to assets, swapping or interchanging devices, encrypting data in-transit or at-rest, and automating patching.

Wrapping up, the edge has the potential to revolutionise the world of cloud computing. However, companies must be careful not to overlook security considerations. Cybersecurity professionals have the responsibility to stay informed of the best practices to ensure their edge computing infrastructure stays as secure as the central core.

The writer is chief technology officer, Clover Infotech

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