In 2021, expanded 5G coverage will make edge computing more practical than ever. Businesses with devices like IoT sensors and autonomous robotics may be able to take advantage of the tech to allow close-to-real time navigation, analysis and automated site management.
However, the edge also presents some significant security challenges. Devices and data centers represent another target for hackers looking to break into company networks and steal valuable business information.
This is how the security landscape is likely to evolve over the course of 2021 as edge computing becomes more common.
The Current State of Edge Security
In general, increasing the number of devices at the edge of a network makes it harder to secure. Edge devices — smartphones, computers, IoT sensors, and autonomous mobile robots — represent a point of attack for hackers.
In many cases, like smart factories and similar facilities, these devices may also transfer vast amounts of data to other devices, edge data centers, the cloud and local business networks. All this information can be vulnerable in transit if it’s not properly secured.
Some businesses that use IoT devices for real-time data analysis or site management also find that they can’t rely totally on the cloud. Latency, when information is transferred from an edge device to cloud servers, can be too high to be practical. These businesses may also rely on third-party providers that maintain edge data centers that serve machines close to the network edge.
These edge data centers can vary significantly in size. One operation may serve local devices and have just one dedicated server rack. Another may have 10 or more and serve clients in a large area or region.
Without a proper audit, businesses may not have a good sense of how these providers are keeping their data secure.
Right now, best practices for edge security include encrypting that data in transit, securing devices with strong passwords and encryption keys, and minimizing connection from these items to the public internet.
How 2021 May Force Edge Providers to Switch up Security Practices
Major changes to the tech landscape in 2021 may alter how businesses approach edge security. The most important will probably be the continuing rollout of 5G. The faster speeds this tech provides will make certain uses of IoT much more practical, potentially encouraging businesses to invest further in these devices.
The ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may also push companies to continue investing in technology, like IoT devices, rather than cost areas like travel.
This means edge devices may become more important than ever. Growing pressure from hackers looking to take advantage of the chaos of the current moment, coupled with an increased number of devices, could mean greater risk of a network breach.
All this will make the development of edge security best practices even more important in 2021.
Right now, the majority of IoT devices are not monitored — an approach that likely won’t work in the long term. Device visibility and management will become increasingly valuable, especially for companies that invest heavily in several distinct IoT devices. This may become even more true as 5G makes the use of IoT for real-time data capture and analysis more practical.
At the same time, companies that rely on third-party providers will need to develop processes for vetting the security practices of companies they partner with.
Improving Edge Security in 2021
In 2021, expanded 5G coverage could make edge computing more practical than ever. However, there are also some significant security challenges. Devices and data centers represent another target for hackers looking to break into company networks and steal valuable business information.
As long as they keep information secure, companies with devices at the edge — IoT sensors and autonomous robotics — may be able to allow for close-to-real time navigation, analysis and automated site management.