Organizations are moving toward combining cybersecurity controls and network functions in the cloud (for example, secure access service edge (SASE)). And, as organizations across all industries move to edge computing, it is important to evaluate existing cybersecurity controls and their corresponding cost-benefit.  

Understanding the edge 

Edge computing is a strategy for computing on the location where data is generated or consumed, allowing IoT data to be gathered and processed at the edge, rather than sending the data back to a data center or cloud. Edge ushers in a new era of computing underpinned by networks with lower latency and increased bandwidth, applications that are headless and ephemeral and an expectation of near-real-time digital experiences. Think of use cases such as smart warehousing with intentional and purpose-built endpoints such as robots or smart buildings with sensors and cameras everywhere to capture movement, maintenance needs and energy consumption.

Edge computing is part of security job functions as well as daily life. Security is an integral part of an overall edge computing vision. In a world dependent on near-real-time information being generated through an increasingly diverse set of endpoints, security becomes part of the business rationale for every edge use case.

Ensuring an organization is prepared

Edge is a popular term when discussing the next generation of computing and networking. However, the industry is in-flux when speaking about edge; vendors tend to lean to the tech stack they are selling and users tend to lean to the tech stack they are using. This results in quite a bit of confusion. 

For the purposes of this article, let’s use the following characteristics to think about edge:

  • Edge characteristics:
    • A distributed model of management, intelligence and networks.
    • Applications, workloads and hosting closer to users and assets that are generating or consuming the data — may be on-premise or in the cloud.
    • Software-defined. 

In the age of highly connected, primarily virtual, business operations, building a formidable security architecture is essential. This is accomplished through both traditional security measures and the implementation of security tools and practices that will help protect organizations in this new compute environment being driven by edge computing. To mitigate risk at the edge, the following should be considered.

  • Network disaggregation: Networks are becoming more intelligent. The idea of disaggregation, the separation into component parts, means that some security tools may be able to become part of the network.
  • Application security: Security is central to a successful business, and in a software-defined world, applications or apps are the connecting point.
    • As organizations move to the edge and understand the importance of security as a central priority for the business — including at the application level — application security will become a top priority. 
    • As more edge applications are deployed the sheer amount of data will multiply at a rapid scale. Data, at the heart of the edge app, needs to be protected, intact/trusted and usable.
  • Threat intelligence: Gathering information about attacks on an organization from a variety of sources will continue to be an essential component of security. With edge computing and the expansion of IoT devices, threat intelligence will be able to provide more granular and refined information about the attack surface.
  • Protection of internet-connected endpoints.
  • Cross-functional collaboration and developing a cyber-aware organizational culture.  

The benefits of continuing to invest in trusted cybersecurity functions highly outweigh the cost. By establishing meaningful security practices from day one, an organization will have the opportunity to grow safely and effectively with fewer security concerns as edge computing continues to evolve.