How the IoT is shaping security needs of edge devices

Reducing the risk of data breaches that exploit IoT networks requires a thorough data protection and device security solution, writes Alan Grau to Data Centre Dynamics.

While many of today’s always-connected tech devices take advantage of cloud computing, IoT (Internet of Things) manufacturers and app developers are starting to discover the benefits of performing more computational analytics on the devices themselves. This approach reduces latency for critical applications, lowers dependence on the cloud, and better manages the deluge of data being generated by the IoT.

The number of devices connected to the Internet, including the machines, sensors, and cameras that make up the IoT, continues to grow without flagging. As this volume booms, the amount of data generated by these devices will also continue to grow. Protecting the Edge – the source of the data – will become more of a challenge to enterprises.

Today’s trucks, containers, kiosks, warehouses, and commercial buildings are creating an ecosystem of Edge devices that not only collect and disseminates data but also perform highly complex tasks such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the outer reaches of the network.

Given the sheer number of Edge devices across the globe, the risk of a data breach multiplies for enterprises. Last year, there were 1,244 data breaches, exposing 446.5 million records. These come at a high price. Ponemon Institute estimates the average cost of a data breach to exceed $3.5 million. Losses of this magnitude cannot be considered a normal cost of doing business, so enterprises need to take measures to protect themselves.

At its most basic, the purpose of Edge computing is to better cope with the vast amounts of data generated by IoT sensors and devices. For many applications, this means analyzing and acting on data at the edge of the network, closer to data sources, rather than transported to a remote, centralized data center for processing. Much of the time an IoT device is responsible for this processing actuation.

Reducing the risk of data breaches that exploit IoT networks requires a thorough data protection and device security solution. A flaw in the security of any device on the network exposes the entire network. Edge node security becomes paramount to prevent any access point being exploited, including proactive rather than reactive cyber-defense.

Edge computing and IoT are new architectures that require new security approaches. The old concept of a relatively safe zone inside the firewall does not apply here. Rather, the devices and processors living at the Edge must each be hardened against attack. Robust identity verification and encrypted data transmission are two critical components of this approach.