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Addressing security at the edge

More so than ever before, we’re seeing an increase in the frequency and complexity of cyberattacks across all industries. Traditionally, companies have layers of security in place to protect themselves from data breaches and digital threats, but companies that utilize edge computing are at risk for losing more than just data in the event of an attack.

A key application for edge computing is helping companies optimize their production lines by processing data and performing analytics at the edge of their production networks. When there is a breach on an edge computing device, the impact can ripple through production facilities and supply chains, compromising productivity, impacting revenues and damaging the bottom line. Given these catastrophic consequences, there is no question as to whether or not companies that deploy edge computing technology need to keep security in these environments top of mind.

If your company is using edge computing, ask yourself to following questions to determine your company’s level of security and how to address any gaps.

Is our organization’s software secure?

Software is at the foundation of all edge computing services, making it a top security issue. The implications that arise with outdated software include major risk and potential hacks. To protect critical data, companies with edge deployments need to make sure that their software systems are being judiciously updated. In fact, security systems can be considered almost completely obsolete if they are running on outdated software. To avoid this mistake, companies should develop best practices that balance the criticality of security updates with any impact to production within the schedule of maintenance windows. This has to be a collaborative exercise between operational technology (OT) and IT security experts.

In the event of a breach, how will we protect against both physical and digital attacks?

In today’s ever-evolving threat landscape, traditional cyberattacks seem harmless when compared to massive malware attacks. However, companies with edge computing deployments need to address both digital and physical threats when developing a security strategy. In most cases, digital protection is covered by deploying a security software, but physical protection can be more complex. If a hacker does gain access to the physical system, measures like identity control and access management need to be put in place to add an additional layer of security and protect the actual connectivity points on physical devices. This protection can also guard companies against internal threats, like human error, which can be devastating to supply chain production.

How can we implement new solutions to increase protection?

Assess the situation and establish a baseline for what measures already exist to secure your environments — and what technologies can increase protection. Right now, it’s widely accepted that OT security software is the most established way to secure edge computing systems. Contrary to popular belief, edge systems can actually work with OT security software to make it more effective and efficient. By placing protection resources close to critical data points, edge systems minimize the time required for security programs to register and process risks. This capability is specifically beneficial for companies that use IoT devices on a large scale, as IT staff may not have the resources to immediately identify the compromised endpoint at the time of a security breach.

The physical and digital aspects of edge computing require additional security strategies for companies to be fully protected from a potential hack. If your company has an edge system in place, or is thinking about utilizing the edge for operational efficiencies, it’s important to deploy a comprehensive security strategy to protect your data and your bottom line.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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