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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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
Chris Bihary, CEO and Co-founder of Garland Technology, has been in the network performance industry for over 20 years. Bihary has established collaborative partnerships with technology companies to complement product performance and security through the integration of network TAP visibility.