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Will Edge Computing Make the IoT More Secure? by Anna Stergioula

Edge-based computing, processing of data at the edge of a network rather than in a centralized cloud location, can bring a number of benefits to those deploying IoT applications. One of the benefits can be increased security.

IoT devices are vulnerable to security breaches. Many are brought to market as quickly and cheaply as possible, with security as an overthought, if considered at all.

Many IoT devices come with easily guessable built-in passwords, insufficient memory for basic security features such as firewalls or two-factor authentication and the lack of ability to receive software patches or upgrades.

Securing the network your IoT application operates on is often a more efficient, effective and economical way of adding security to your IoT deployment than trying to secure the devices themselves.

Is the Edge More Secure than Cloud-Based Computing?

Centralized, cloud-based data storage comes with security risks. While most cloud storage companies have good security systems in place once your data actually reaches the cloud, to get there it has to travel through the public internet.

Passing your private information through the public internet, even if you are using a VPN, exposes it to the risk of being corrupted or stolen. So, even if the cloud service you are using is very safe, there are inherent dangers in sending your information to the cloud. That’s why using edge computing to reduce the quantity of data that is sent across the internet can decrease the risk of that data being intercepted.

computer with code on screen

For highly sensitive IoT applications, there is also the option of using a private, direct connection, such as Pod Connect, for extra security. Pod Connect enables you to directly connect your high stakes application to our network – without ever touching the public internet. This ensures that data is transmitted quickly and safely without risk of interference, which is particularly important for sensitive applications

“Local data processing and filtering by an edge gateway can also reduce the amount of sensitive and private information that is sent through a network,” Ismet Aktaş, Bosch Software Innovations.

Simply by sending less data to a central cloud server, there is less at risk.

Security Risks for IoT Applications Using Edge Computing

While in many ways edge computing will lead to increased security, there are some security risks to bear in mind.

A centralized cloud server, if breached, would expose all your data. Storing small packets of data across a number of edge computing nodes spreads the risk out. If one is compromised it may only affect a small percentage of your data.

However, even though the edge computing nodes hold smaller amounts of data, they do increase the surface areas which are exposed to being attacked.

“Extending your footprint using edge computing exponentially increases the surface area for attacks,” says Santhosh Rao, senior research director at Gartner.

You don’t want a hacker gaining access to any part of your network, no matter how little data is stored there. Also, once access is gained, a hacker could use this point of entry to infiltrate the rest of your network.

Edge Computing Security Requires Extra Vigilance

network of lights

With edge computing, there are many more potential points of access for hackers and each must be guarded with equal vigilance. This can hamper scalability and potentially increase costs. A good solution is to secure your network, which allows you to scale more simply and affordably.

Like so many new innovations, edge computing brings many exciting possibilities but also a caveat to tread carefully and think things through thoroughly. Edge computing may well make your IoT deployment safer, but it must be handled in the right way.

You must consider early on how you will secure your IoT application and not leave it as an overthought.

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Anna Stergioula

Technical Account Director and Head of Security

Living proof that women are a force in tech, Anna not only works tirelessly to support customers but also travels the world promoting the security of the IoT.

Posted: October 22, 2019