Visibility Solutions

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Adapting to New Security Demands at the Edge

In Part 1 of this “Master the Edge of the Network” series, we talked about the key networking factors you have to consider managing the edge of the network to gain these edge computing benefits. But edge computing isn’t without challenges.

Security is one of the most glaring challenges associated with the move to the edge. To master the edge of the network and unlock its true potential, you need to understand the new security demands and adapt accordingly.

The Security Demands of the Edge

As if traditional data center security wasn’t challenging enough, edge computing introduces two key factors that emphasize your vulnerabilities—decentralized data and device volume.

The core of edge computing is the idea that you can shift processing power to the outer edges of your network where data is generated. While that’s great for application speed, it naturally removes data from the safety of your central security systems. And that challenge is only compounded by the fact that more and more devices are being added to the edge of your network.

Over the next 5 years, IBM estimates the number of edge devices in the market will grow from 15 billion to 150 billion. Compared to the days of centralized data centers and even cloud computing models, this is an explosion of growth in the number of network-connected devices that only increases your attack surface.

In theory, distributing compute power and data across an increasingly wide network edge can improve your resistance to DDoS attacks and increase reliability. But in reality, attackers have proven they can compromise IoT devices to launch attacks against enterprise networks.

To avoid the edge of your network becoming a vast array of security vulnerabilities, you need a strategy and approach to defense that accounts for:

  • Perimeter Security: For years the cybersecurity community has pushed for a transition from ineffective perimeter protections to defense-in-depth strategies. But mastering the edge of the network requires a renewed focus on perimeter security. This means ensuring edge devices and servers are connected securely via encrypted tunnels, sophisticated access control, and advanced firewalls.
  • Application Security: The edge of your network will be made up of devices and servers that run and orchestrate containerized applications. Ensuring that each Docker runtime is secure can make all the difference in your ability to succeed with edge computing. This means putting in place permission settings, setting resource quotas, securing registries, and monitoring the security of any APIs you use.
  • Threat Detection: Adapting any threat detection techniques to support edge computing is essential. As your data processing moves further and further away from your central data center and cloud environments, you need proactive threat detection tools that can identify malicious activity before it works its way deeper into your network.
  • Vulnerability Management: As is always the case, you need a plan for effective vulnerability management to secure your network effectively. The proliferation of edge devices exaggerates this issue, forcing you to find ways to scale your efforts and eliminate blind spots.
  • Automated Patching: With tens, hundreds, thousands, or even millions of edge devices in place, manual patch management will become nearly impossible (if it isn’t already). Automating the process for the edge of your network will eliminate much of the low-hanging fruit that attackers look for.

You’ll notice that none of the elements of edge security are groundbreaking. While edge security requires us to rethink the way we protect our data and networks, it’s less about overhauling cybersecurity and more about extending existing capabilities to the edge.

>> Download Now: Managing the Edge [Free whitepaper]

What Does Edge Security Really Mean?

At Garland Technology, edge security is the way we apply defense measures at the many network nodes that now exist outside of the traditional core. In many ways, edge security means scaling current practices in a way that efficiently covers increasingly decentralized data and workloads. 

As a result, effective edge security comes down to our ability to maintain a few key principles even as the network evolves. We still have to ensure:

  • Administrators have 100% visibility into all network activity around the edge
  • Monitoring tools are deployed with a focus on automation to scale effectively
  • Data is encrypted both at rest and in transit to ensure the network isn’t compromised at the edge or core
  • Access is limited as much as possible to reduce the potential for data tampering at the edge

Because data is both stored locally at the edge and transferred to the core network for more intensive workloads, you need a more comprehensive focus on encryption than in the past. But the real difference between edge security and traditional designs is the need to create a layer of protection for IoT endpoints. The firewalls, intrusion prevention systems (IPS), intrusion detection systems (IDS), and other tools you’ve always used must now monitor, analyze, and report on malicious activity in all disparate network nodes. 

That being said, simply investing in more security tools isn’t enough. Effective edge security starts with one key idea—that you can’t respond to an attack you aren’t aware of.

Visibility: The Cornerstone of Effective Edge Security    

If your first instinct for edge security is to deploy IDS tools to identify anomalies and IPS solutions to proactively address attacks, you’re on the right path to network protection. However, it’s important to recognize that there are some additional security tools that will also play a part in protecting the edge.

Beyond a next-gen firewall capable of deep packet inspection, the edge requires reinforced protections with advanced solutions like cloud-based threat intelligence, data loss prevention, and network-based malware protection. These are just a few of the tools that vendors have come up with to specifically protect the network edge.

But the fact remains that without visibility into 100% of activity at the edge, these tools will fall short in terms of eliminating vulnerabilities. 

We’ve adapted our portfolio of visibility solutions (including network TAPs, inline packet brokers, and cloud TLS traffic mirroring) to specifically address the challenges of edge security. By offering total visibility into edge and cloud environments, you eliminate blind spots, ensure no packets are dropped, improve tool performance across your ever-expanding network, and make the most of existing threat detection and mitigation investments.

The specific edge visibility solutions we offer include:

  • Edge Bypass TAPs and Packet Brokers: Our fail-safe bypass TAPs and inline packet brokers provide total control over your network edge. You can deploy multiple inline, active security tools and out-of-band monitoring solutions without introducing points of failure in the network. For your firewalls, IPS, IDS, data loss prevention, SSL decryption, and other edge security tools, these visibility solutions ensure all data packets are inspected and ensure you aren’t hit with costly downtime for edge devices.
  • Cloud Traffic Monitoring: Hybrid cloud environments play a vital role in connecting the core network to your edge nodes. As data passes back and forth between your edge devices and your central IT stack, our solutions provide air gapped cloud traffic mirroring as well as TLS decryption and tunneling. These features provide an additional layer of security and visibility for cloud workloads associated with edge computing.

Looking to add inline or out-of-band security monitoring solutions, but not sure where to start? Join us for a brief network Design-IT consultation or demo. No obligation - it’s what we love to do.

Manage your network's edge effectively

Written by Juan Garza

Juan is the Regional Sales Manager for Garland Technology representing the Western US territories. He has had 20 years experience in technology segments including networking, data center, virtual compute, cloud monitoring and semiconductors.