Guide to Edge Security

In security solutions, software solutions, and network infrastructures, security is typically where the action occurs. For edge computing, this means that security must be at the perimeter. After all, the "edge" is the furthest point of a network where devices connect to other networks and systems. Establishing security at the edge is crucial for addressing the challenges posed by decentralized infrastructure.  

This guide defines edge security, explains how it works, details use cases, and discusses security 
benefits at the edge. 

What is edge security?

Edge security is an enterprise security infrastructure not located in a traditional data center or cloud—instead, edge security functions at the "edge" of an organization's network. Edge security protects against threats like data breaches, malware, and cyber-attacks and forbids entry by unauthorized parties that may try to gain access through the internet or another network. 

How does edge security work?

In edge security, the solutions occur along the network's furthest points, where the end-user creates and stores data. There are three critical components of edge security: 

Perimeter Security

Perimeter security is a system of firewalls, control and monitoring solutions, and intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS). These solutions keep track of the traffic passing through the network and analyze it to identify possible issues. If any issues are detected, perimeter security addresses the problems and stops further passage of malicious traffic. 

Secure Gateways

Secure gateways monitor, encrypt, authenticate, and control communications with other networks. They also protect the data that is transferred between networks. Secure gateways typically protect devices through micro segmentation within the local network so that security is independent from devices and the cloud. This reduces exposure of unpatched devices to threats and allows for easy deployment. 

Endpoint Security 

A startling number of networks and IoT platforms have identical passwords or lack privileged access management (PAM). Additionally, devices and machines are becoming more complicated to protect. Endpoint security addresses these concerns by protecting devices that are connected to the network with antivirus software, password management, and other solutions that reduce vulnerabilities. Endpoint security also enforces security policies to maintain device, network, and data safety. 

Uses of Edge Security

Edge security has many applications. Here are useful applications for edge security in five key industries: 

1. Healthcare

From large volumes of sensitive patient data to the many connected devices, healthcare has a severe need for edge security. Edge security protects medical records and safeguards hospital networks and machines against cyber threats and intrusions. For example, IoT-enabled wearable patient monitoring devices rely upon edge security to securely and efficiently retrieve and upload data. 

Edge computing also provides bandwidth savings, real-time processing of local data, lower operational costs, lower network latency, and improved patient safety. Healthcare IT teams are discovering that the benefits of edge computing significantly exceed the potential constraints (such as additional systems to manage and cybersecurity protection).

2. Finance 

Banks and other financial institutions hold, process, and transmit large volumes of sensitive data. From online transactions to mission-critical infrastructure and beyond, edge security protects against unauthorized access, financial fraud, and costly data breaches. 

Using AI-enabled analytics at the edge to detect fraudulent trends will allow banks to take even more preventative actions. ATMs equipped with CCTV can apply facial recognition software in real-time to detect potential fraud, lock down ATMs, and notify the client, bank, and law enforcement authorities. Banks will likely use an on-premise edge solution to filter, assess, and inform systems about suspicious activities for data security and to ensure sensitive client information does not leave the premises.

Financial services organizations acquire enormous volumes of identifiable data and must adhere to strict laws. For example, sensitive consumer information gathered by banks is subject to GDPR within the EU, which contains regulations for the security, portability, and access to personal data. The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 in the United States imposed different compliance requirements on US banks. 

While cloud computing provides unique capabilities to grow and study enormous datasets, it frequently necessitates large volumes of sensitive data flowing across borders, necessitating complicated rules and increasing the risk of breaches. 

Edge computing can provide a solution by enabling sensitive data to be processed within national boundaries while dramatically reducing the data transmitted to the cloud. In addition, edge computing technologies offer real-time monitoring of the bank's financial health and compliance with the various capital and leverage ratios mandated by law.

3. Manufacturing and Logistics

There are many interconnected devices, machines, sensors, users, systems, infrastructure, and supply chain networks in manufacturing and logistics. Edge security protects infrastructure and ensures the availability of systems and assets. For instance, in warehouse automation workflows, edge security allows manufacturers to use computer vision to manage inventory and streamline product picking. 

In this industry, several edge security measures ensure data and information security. One solution, for example, proposes a unique IoT interface that assures the security and integrity of data exchanged between endpoints. An encryption system based on two keys maintained at the source and the destination and a straightforward yet efficient coding/decoding scheme provides protection. 

Another approach proposes an algorithm to improve logistics and transportation security using IoT technologies communicating over 5G networks and cloud computing. Encryption-decryption is used in the proposed system to encrypt data before sending it, ensuring that the shared information cannot be compromised. 

Blockchain platforms find use in the food transportation business, and an edge scheme provides data storage and communication security to facilitate food safety control. The proposed approach collects data on the food supply chain via edge devices, which are then uploaded to the blockchain for record-keeping. Blockchain technology ensures security in this way. 

4. Government 

The government handles large volumes of sensitive and mission-critical data, mission-critical infrastructure and communication systems, and many users and devices dispersed over large geographical areas across complex, interconnected systems. Edge security is crucial for protecting against cyber-attacks, supporting national security, and maintaining the privacy of sensitive information. In terms of national security and defense, edge security is instrumental in powering and protecting devices such as a first responder’s phone, a border patrol agent’s watch, drones that survey forest fires, and more. 

Several other use cases include secure communications on combat vehicles and for command and control, data collection and analysis at our borders or in communities for infectious diseases, on-site claims processing in natural disasters, detection of supply chain disruptions, high-volume transportation optimization, situational awareness in fighting forest fires, law enforcement, and coastal water protection, and comprehensive soil, weather, pesticide, and other data for advanced agriculture.

Benefits of Edge Security

Edge security provides additional defense and privacy for networks, devices, and users by reducing the points of security failure and lowering the risks of threats and attacks. In edge security solutions, robust and agile security infrastructure is placed around the network's perimeter and on each device. 

For example, when Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks threaten to overwhelm network resources, edge security solutions swoop in to detect, mitigate, and respond to the threats. Edge security addresses the DDoS attack in real-time, at the network edge and prevents it from reaching critical network components. 

Edge security also protects the data that enters and exits the network with encryption technologies and data loss prevention measures. It enables access control and enforces secure remote access through solutions like virtual private networks (VPNs) and other encryption gateways. The content that goes in and out of the network is controlled to prevent malware infections, phishing attacks, and other harmful activities. 

Challenges in Implementing Edge Security

Securing a network's perimeter brings about some specific challenges, but they can all be addressed with the right approach and expertise. 

Edge security is critical for large and complex network systems. Still, these types of infrastructure typically have many entry and exit points, widely dispersed locations, and many devices that need protection. Managing and securing something of this scale and complexity can be challenging. 

Regarding capacity-related challenges, some devices at the edge have limited resources like processing power, memory, and storage. When this is the case, implementing security measures may be challenging unless the measures are efficient, light, and compatible. Additionally, the security system must be robust enough to handle the demands but not so strong that it negatively impacts the network's latency, connectivity speeds, or performance.  

Finally, users need to be aware of the security protocols and trained on them for edge security to perform optimally. It can be challenging for some companies to provide the training, enforcement, and ongoing support required, mainly if users are dispersed over an extensive geographic area. 

Looking to partner with an expert to implement edge security? Contact Encora to learn more about edge security and our advanced software engineering capabilities.

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