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Edge Security In Hybrid IT: Protecting Devices At The Network Perimeter

Edge Security In Hybrid IT: Protecting Devices At The Network Perimeter

Edge computing is quickly becoming a must-have feature in hybrid IT environments. While it opens up exciting opportunities it also raises some new challenges. Arguably the most significant of these is the need for effective edge security. With that in mind, here is a quick guide to what you need to know about network perimeter protection.

Understanding edge computing

Edge computing is a decentralized computing model that brings computational power closer to the edge of the network and hence closer to the devices generating or consuming data. By doing so, it enables data to be processed much more quickly, sometimes even in real-time (or close to it).

Understanding the role of edge computing in hybrid IT

The underlying principle of hybrid IT setups is to optimize workload management by putting the right workload in the right place at the right time. Implementing an edge computing system is, therefore, often a logical step for administrators of hybrid IT systems.

Generally, the edge system will be used for the basic processing of highly time-sensitive data. Data that requires more intense processing and/or is less time-sensitive will be sent to a centralized data center and/or a cloud.

Challenges in edge security

Here is a quick overview of the five main challenges in edge security and some guidance on how you can mitigate them.

Diverse and distributed infrastructure

Edge devices are often geographically dispersed, making it difficult to implement centralized edge security measures. Additionally, the varied nature of edge devices makes it more challenging to standardize security protocols and monitoring mechanisms.

To address this challenge, organizations need to adopt decentralized security approaches that can adapt to the heterogeneity and geographical distribution of edge components.

Dynamic nature of edge environments

Traditional security models often rely on static configurations. This can leave them struggling in edge computing environments as these tend to be highly dynamic.

To address this challenge, organizations must implement adaptive security measures, such as real-time monitoring, automated threat detection, and dynamic policy enforcement.

Increased attack surface

Each edge device represents a potential entry point for cyber threats. The diversity of devices and the distributed nature of edge computing create more opportunities for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities.

Mitigating this challenge requires businesses to develop a comprehensive edge security strategy. This needs to include regular vulnerability assessments, patch management, and the implementation of security protocols at both the device and network levels.

Limited resources on edge devices

Traditional security solutions designed for resource-rich environments may not be suitable for edge devices with constrained memory and processing power.

Overcoming this challenge requires the development and adoption of lightweight security protocols, optimized for edge devices, and the use of edge-native security solutions that minimize resource consumption while providing adequate protection against cyber threats.

Interoperability challenges

The lack of uniformity in communication protocols and security standards across different edge devices can hinder the seamless integration of security solutions.

To address this challenge, industry collaboration is crucial for developing and promoting interoperable security standards that can be adopted uniformly across diverse edge computing environments, fostering a more secure and cohesive ecosystem.

Strategies for ensuring robust network perimeter protection

Here are five strategies for ensuring robust network perimeter protection. They apply in any environment but are particularly relevant to edge computing security.

Implementing a zero-trust security model

Adopting a zero-trust security model involves treating every device and user as potentially untrusted, regardless of their location within the network. This approach enforces strict access controls, ensuring that users and devices must authenticate and be authorized before accessing resources.

By implementing principles like the principle of least privilege and continuous authentication, organizations can minimize their attack surface and enhance network perimeter protection. This helps to prevent unauthorized access even if an attacker infiltrates the network.

Network segmentation

By segregating workloads based on function or sensitivity, organizations can mitigate the impact of a security incident and prevent unauthorized access to critical assets.

Implementing micro-segmentation takes this practice further, providing granular control over communication between individual devices or workloads, and enhancing security at the network perimeter.

Next-generation firewalls (NGFW)

Next-generation firewalls combine traditional firewall functionalities with advanced features, such as deep packet inspection, intrusion prevention, and application-layer filtering. NGFWs go beyond simply examining packet headers, allowing organizations to analyze the content of network traffic and make informed security decisions.

Integration with threat intelligence feeds enables NGFWs to proactively identify and block known malicious entities, providing a robust defense mechanism at the network perimeter against evolving cyber threats.

Cloud-based security solutions

Cloud-based security services, such as web application firewalls (WAF) and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) mitigation services, can effectively filter and block malicious traffic before it reaches the internal network.

These solutions benefit from the collective intelligence of the cloud provider’s security infrastructure. This means they can provide real-time threat updates and immediate response capabilities.

Regular security audits and assessments

Penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and security risk assessments help organizations proactively discover and address potential security gaps. Continuous monitoring and periodic reviews of security policies ensure that the network perimeter protection measures remain effective against emerging threats and evolving attack vectors.

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