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How Can Enterprises Overcome Edge Computing Security Challenges?

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Cloud computing became a popular IT buzzword since the pandemic. Enterprises started to frantically move their business-critical workload to the cloud. While Cloud was making headlines, ‘Edge Computing’ has subtly caught on. We can recognize edge computing as the natural progression to cloud computing.

Also Read: 3 C’s in Cloud Computing: Cloud, Cost and Containers

What is Edge Computing?

Cloud computing operates through a centralized cloud where data is being sent for computation. This transfer of data results in latency and industries that need to crunch data and present results in real-time need a better solution. Hence, edge computing came into picture. In the edge, computing resources are brought closer to the edge of the network. In a nutshell, edge computing enables companies to process data closer to the source, instead of relying on a central cloud data centre.

Edge computing has gained popularity along with the proliferation of IoT and connected devices. It is changing the way IT architects modernize their infrastructures. In fact, the expansion to the edge is so pronounced that Gartner predicts that by 2025, 75 percent of enterprise data will be generated and processed outside the traditional datacentre or cloud.

The unfortunate side-effect of this popularity is that it has attracted the attention of cyber threat actors and they are relentlessly trying to exploit the vulnerabilities of edge devices.

Security Challenges of Edge Computing:

Since edge devices are often deployed far outside a centralized data infrastructure or datacentre, they face magnified security risks from both a digital and physical security standpoint.

Data Storage and Protection  Data that is being collected and processed at the edge lacks the hardened physical security usually found in datacentres. It might be possible to steal an entire database simply by removing the disk from the edge computing resource, or by inserting a memory stick to copy information. In addition, edge computing infrastructures often have limited local storage options, which might make it difficult to back up critical files. Hence, it would be very difficult to restore this data in case of an incident or accident.

Difficulty in Managing  Edge computing poses manageability challenges.  More nodes would mean more monitoring, maintenance, and of course, more cyberattack attempts. In addition, edge computing enables quick collection and analysis of huge volume of data, which can hinder all data related processes such as backup, recovery, management, and storage.

Data Sprawl  As companies deploy more and more edge devices to manage a wider array of operations, it gets harder to track and monitor. Over time, there are chances that devices may even outgrow boundaries of the edge, resulting in bandwidth overcrowding and endangering the end-point security of multiple devices.

In this scenario, what can enterprises do to overcome these security challenges?

Edge security best practices:

  • Use identity and privileged accounts control and surveillance to enhance digital and physical security at the edge
  • Apply the highest level of network security protocols amongst devices, users, and edge facilities
  • Implement zero trust edge access. In this, cybersecurity professionals allow only the minimal amount of access for each device
  • Ensure physical security of connected devices by deploying only authenticated devices
  • The security of edge computing infrastructure should not be the exclusive responsibility of the cybersecurity team. All teams including cybersecurity, physical security, operations, and management must come together to ensure holistic security.
  • Ensure all devices are in operation mode and not accidentally left in default setup, reset, or pairing modes
  • Train employees to recognize and deter social engineering attacks that could be exploited by attackers to gain access to restricted areas where edge devices are installed.
  • Establish audit procedures to control data and application hosting changes at the edge

Edge computing is transforming the way data is being collected and processed, thereby empowering several industries such as autonomous vehicles, IoT and smart devices, healthcare, etc., to name a few. With this industry growing at such a tremendous pace, cybersecurity teams must stay informed with the latest industry best practices to ensure that their edge computing infrastructure stays as secure as physical data centres.

As written by Shrikant Navelkar, Director, Clover Infotech, and published in Digital Terminal

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