Edge computing is one of the biggest data trends of the decade. Huge companies are adopting the technology and more branch sites than ever are recording and storing data. But what does edge mean and does it pose a risk?
What is Edge?
Edge computing processes data near the edge of your network, where the data is being generated, instead of relying on the cloud – or, more specifically, a collection of data centres. Since networks do not cover an infinite distance, there will be sites that are too remote to adopt a centralized or cloud system for controlling data and applications. This is called the network edge, edge computing is the technology that sits in these remote sites and carries out work.
With processing being done close to where data is generated, such architectures will be able to deliver better performance and efficiency, and ultimately allow companies to reduce their operational expenses.
Those that champion edge computing claim that computing at the edge is safer because data is not traveling over a network, but others see edge computing as being less secure because, for example, IoT devices are easily hacked.
“Security at the edge remains a huge challenge, primarily because there are highly diverse use cases for IoT, and most IoT devices don’t have traditional IT hardware protocols. So the security configuration and software updates which are often needed through the lifecycle of the device may not be present,” says Barika Pace, research director at analyst firm Gartner.
5G will only exacerbate this problem. The IoT and 5G relationship will see huge numbers of IoT devices feeding a huge amount of data to the edge. Currently however, none of the security protocols on IoT are standardised which highlights the biggest security risk of 5G. That is to say, your smart fridge in the kitchen currently has no standard for how it secures and authenticates with other smart devices. Base-level security controls are therefore required to mitigate such risks.
Those looking to deploy these devices should therefore consider the security of the devices and the network before rushing to deploy them.