Why security needs to be closer to the edge

The increase in the number of IoT devices coupled with a trend towards BYOD and the continued adoption of cloud services means that the focus on business security is moving away from protecting the core network to dealing with devices at the edge.

All of these extra devices plus a blurring of the personal and business lines on mobile devices have significant security implications. As the 5G rollout gathers pace, offering faster connectivity from anywhere, these issues will be accentuated.

The likely impact of the edge across all sectors is why it has been named among the top ten strategic technology trends for 2020 by industry analyst Gartner. [1] It will be essential for delivering smart buildings, smart cities, intelligent power distribution, transportation systems and much more.

Security roadblock

The problem is that security technologies have so far failed to keep up with the pace of moves to the edge and that could be a significant roadblock to future development. Even the latest firewalls, for example, can struggle to deal with the volumes of encrypted data that require real-time inspection.

Things are only going to get worse because the volumes of data involved are set to grow rapidly as more and more connected devices come online. What’s more, the data from many IoT and IIoT devices is unstructured, making it harder for security systems to deal with.

Protecting the edge

So how will security systems need to evolve to cope with this volume of traffic and the potential threats within it? The next generation of firewall technology will need to be lightweight, allowing it to run on low powered hardware closer to the edge, and will need AI capability to make autonomous decisions fast.

Increasingly, security will need to be built into network devices and functions too. This might mean the need for purpose-built processors that can handle the workloads involved. These types of Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) are already in use by cloud providers such as Amazon and Google to deliver the analysis their environments need. Security will need the same kind of specialist processors to handle tasks including inspecting encrypted traffic and analysing raw data.

The same will apply to virtualised environments too. Security tools for the cloud and containers will increasingly become focused on and optimised for those environments. They will also need to be integrated with DevOps processes.

Where the edge devices themselves are concerned, it will no longer be sufficient to have hardware protected by nothing more than a default password. The telecoms sector has already learned this lesson the hard way – which is why wireless routers now come with strong passwords and encryption enabled by default – and we can expect to see IoT device manufacturers following suit.

We’ll also see increasing levels of security being built into networking hardware, allowing dynamic changes to connectivity and workflows. This will mean delivering infrastructure and security hand-in-hand, so as to eliminate the gaps and time lags in network environments that can be exploited by cybercriminals.

Finally, we’re likely to see the development of ‘learning nodes’. Backed by AI and machine learning, these will be able to collate local threat intelligence and share it with other devices, as well as using data from a central core to provide a fast, flexible approach to incoming threats.

The move to more edge devices risks technology outpacing security and that can expose networks to attack. It’s important for both vendors and users to ensure they have properly integrated security solutions on their networks and that they adopt a security-first strategy to new developments.

If you need free advice on new technology or anything IT related then give Cloudworks a call. We are specialists in cloud technologies, cyber-security and support. In addition, we continuously monitor our clients IT cloud infrastructure to ensure they are secure and protected against the latest threats. Give us a call to find out more and we will find the best strategy and solution to fit your business.

Call us on 0115 824 8244 or email info@cloudworks.co.uk

[1] https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2019-10-21-gartner-identifies-the-top-10-strategic-technology-trends-for-2020