Rittal Blog

What Responsibilities Does Edge Computing Put on IT Managers?

October 27 2021 by Herb Villa

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Remember Dolly?

Dolly the Sheep was the first mammal to have been successfully cloned from an adult cell. When her Scottish creators informed the world of her existence in 1996, she became more famous than the Spice Girls (and their first album sold 23,000,000+ copies).

People reacted passionately to Dolly, to say the least. Some welcomed the advancement in technology, and some warned, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

Does it seem like a bit of a stretch to connect Dolly with Edge Computing? Well, Edge Computing brings new technology close to data-heavy devices, addresses latency, opens connectivity possibilities, supports smart decision-making, and improves efficiency.

However, some still may argue: “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” While most IT Managers will disagree, there are added, even unique responsibilities to be considered, which could influence their decision to begin using Edge Computing.

Physical Security of Edge Computing

Most large data centers enjoy a comprehensive security system, but that’s not true of many Edge deployments, most of which are standalone installations, isolated in a facility and not near staff. Creating a reliable security system is somewhat difficult, especially determining how much physical protection from people (both employees and the general public) may be needed.

Ask these questions:

  • Is there a transient work force?
  • Is the installation easy to vandalize?
  • Is it exposed to or near constantly changing human traffic?
  • Are physical break-ins a realistic concern?
  • Are there other physical threats: fire, smoke, vibration, gas, electromagnetic fields?

With all of these in mind, it may be wise to explore using high-quality IT cabinets that are engineered for physical security and include monitoring systems with sensors and video surveillance.

The goal is to provide the highest level of physical security. This may evolve into a comprehensive threat analysis program. One requiring input from a variety of contributors – facility management, maintenance personnel, operations groups, corporate security, etc. As well as from IT. Eliminating all physical threats isn’t realistic, yet security measures can be taken to protect it while complementing your cybersecurity…

 

Edge Computing and the Risk of Cyberattacks

Edge computing helps manage essential data, which is a vital competency for nearly all modern businesses. However, benefiting from the successes of Edge computing while staying safe is also vital.

Part of our blog article last month, the top factors challenging the success of Edge Computing, was the fact that additional internet-enabled devices means more opportunities for cyberattackers; there is now a larger attack surface. IT Managers have no need to panic, though. When done properly, Edge Computing doesn't have to be a source of cybersecurity risk. Start with the solid physical security implementation discussed above and reduce opportunities for localized cyberattacks – USB stick, anyone? The physical CAN be a barrier to the cyber; so ensure they are fully coordinated.

Edge deployments distribute processing across more devices, yet there really are only minor differences between the cybersecurity precautions that need to be taken between Edge deployments and traditional IT environments. That said, the tools that hosts provide (endpoint and network traffic security) will not cut it; they simply don’t have the visibility needed to react to threats at the Edge.

The key is speed ...

 

Speed is Critical to Edge Computing

Cyberattack prevention tools must be automated so threats are handled immediately to prevent serious and escalating damage. Why? Because at The Edge, milliseconds are crucial, for security reasons as much as for processing data and maintaining operations. Any breach, physical or cyber, can cause havoc throughout a business. And in today’s hyper-connected world, beyond your organization. Your company does not want to be the lead headline in the news for why there was a cascading security breach – just ask any bot or worm.

Security response systems that are automated must be fast enough to analyze threats in real-time, immediately identifying and containing them. That brings up the issue of visibility.

What is actually happening on the network, especially The Edge, is not being seen by the right people within businesses. Digital transformation is happening so quickly — and the number of Edge deployments are increasing so frequently — that data collection is a blur. IT Managers must make sure that security data, such as a security incident event management (SIEM) platform, gets proper analysis.

Like any other technology, there are do’s and don’ts of Edge Computing, and protecting the Edge is a responsibility that MUST be done. When properly deployed and protected, edge deployments can operate smoothly and be a tool used to improve cyber resilience.

Start with the basics — require strong passwords or two-factor authentication, do not use simple or default passwords, lock down the Wi-Fi at the Edge — and you will never hear: “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

If you are ready to go beyond the theoretical, you can explore some actual Edge Computing deployments. You are invited to watch our webinar: Edge Deployment Use Cases: Success Stories & Lessons Learned.

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Categories: Edge Computing

Herb Villa

Written by Herb Villa

Rittal Sr. Applications Engineer

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