Overcome These Edge Computing Threats to Secure Corporate Data

November 11, 2020

At its core, edge computing brings computation and data storage closer to the devices where information is gathered. The edge is the location where servers can deliver functionality to customers most efficiently. This technology prevents data from suffering latency issues that can affect an application’s performance. Companies can also use edge computing to save money by having the processing done locally, reducing the amount of data that needs to be processed in a centralized or cloud-based location. 

Edge computing was developed in response to the exponential growth of IoT devices. Many of these IoT devices generate enormous amounts of data during the course of their operations, including critical enterprise data such as security footage from a lobby video camera or the information used to monitor manufacturing on the factory floor. 

Now, what if this wealth of data was hacked? 

When it comes to edge computing cybersecurity, data at the edge can pose multiple challenges. This precious information is often being handled by different devices that might not be as secure as a centralized or cloud-based system. Consequently, edge computing provides more opportunities for attackers to access devices—and corporate networks—remotely and physically. As the number of IoT devices increases, it’s imperative to understand these devices’ potential security issues and ensure those systems can be secured. 

These are the risks you need to consider in order to overcome edge computing security threats. 

Poorly secured edge devices 

The continuous rise in edge devices used within organizations increases vulnerabilities at the edge, which hackers can exploit. According to Forbes, cybersecurity attacks on IoT devices are accelerating at unprecedented speeds, surging 300% in 2019. Because there are highly diverse use cases for IoT—and most IoT devices don’t have traditional IT hardware protocols—the security configuration and software updates often needed throughout the device’s lifecycle may not be present. If an edge computing device is poorly configured and secured, they are prone to far more cybersecurity attacks that can disrupt operations or gain access to the broader enterprise network. 

If devices in the edge network do fall under attack, the following repercussions could follow suit:

  1. Hackers can use edge servers to break into the main network and steal credit card or financial information (either from employees or customers). 
  2. If your organization uses drones, cybercriminals can also hack these devices, change their flight path and get them to deliver packages to the wrong address, disrupt flights or events, or for illegal intelligence gathering.
  3. Hackers may infiltrate your edge network but hold on carrying out the objective of their attack for a long time. This allows them to observe the business from within and possibly elevate their attack methods. 

To overcome the challenges of poorly secured edge devices, assess security from the source. When acquiring any IoT device, make sure that you have the option to change any default passwords so that your device is not susceptible to simple brute force attacks. Additionally, ask the manufacturer or supplier what their notification policy is regarding firmware updates and ensure that you have processes in place to patch software vulnerabilities as soon as an update notification is received. This proactive style of device security will help protect your edge network at the source. 

Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS)

Distributed Denial-of-Service, or DDoS attacks, occur when hackers infect computers and IoT devices with bots, creating a botnet. When triggered, these botnets can be used to launch countless requests that overload servers and disable the processing of legitimate requests. Once they infect an organization’s edge devices, hackers can also access edge servers for further exploitation. Consequently, the business could lose complete control of their services and data. 
Edge servers may be less secure than normal core or cloud servers and have less protections such as DDoS mitigation or firewalls, making them more vulnerable to being affected by DDoS. What’s more, edge devices usually have limited network bandwidth and are not designed to withstand high volumes of traffic. Considering that DDoS attacks are widespread and powerful and that edge networks are particularly susceptible to them, any edge network must be designed to prevent such attacks. 

While it can be difficult to prevent a connected device from being recruited into a botnet, organizations can protect their networks with managed IP bandwidth services and proactive and automated DDoS protection while enabling edge connectivity

Misalignment across device edge and service provider edge

While cloud computing is about centralizing data and applications in big cloud data centers, edge computing is about distributing processing to the network perimeter. With edge technology, existing cloud providers will deliver many edge services either independently or in collaboration with internet service providers, carriers and more. Additionally, organizations will need to work with ISPs, device manufactures and integrators on their edge computing implementation.

With increased data movement and the flexibility to place the data outside of the central cloud at varying locations on the distributed network, organizations must consider the resulting security, regulatory and compliance issues that come with it. This is especially true for data related to healthcare, governments, finance and other sensitive data. Tackling these issues requires defining the appropriate security controls at the edge locations and ensuring that uniform security policies are applied throughout the entire distributed computing architecture.

Use a comprehensive platform that supports edge security 

As edge computing continues to gain traction, organizations must map out a comprehensive edge computing strategy and architecture aligned with their overall business goals to protect their security. To support this level of secure edge connectivity, use a comprehensive platform that offers continuous flexibility to enable you to take advantage of leading IT infrastructure. With this type of network solution in place, you’ll enjoy faster data transfer across your entire network while feeling confident in your company’s edge computing security. 

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