What is Edge Computing?

Edge computing can be best defined through Gartner’s definition – “a part of a distributed computing topology in which information processing is located close to the edge – where things and people produce or consume that information.” Essentially, you can think of edge computing as computing/information processing that occurs at or near the data source, rather than through the cloud and data center.

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What is Edge Computing?

Data processing at the network edge

Traditional IT infrastructure is very centralized. All data processing and storage is performed on a small number of collocated machines. While the cloud has had some impact on decentralizing IT, edge computing takes it even further.

In edge computing, data is processed near the network “edge” or near the source of the data. This is helpful because it reduces latency for applications that offload their data processing to servers. For example, Internet of Things (IoT) devices may have preliminary data processing performed at the edge before data may be forwarded to a data center or cloud server for additional analysis. This initial processing can be used to determine where the data should be sent or if additional processing is needed at all.

Why the need for Edge Computing? Why does it matter?

The primary use case for edge computing is to address the processing needs of a growing number of IoT devices. In recent years, the expansion of the IoT has resulted in the production of massive amounts of data by these devices. 5G networks provide higher data speeds and support denser concentrations of devices than earlier mobile networks. This will spur deployment of IoT devices, further increasing the volume of data created.

Edge computing helps to manage the impact and performance of these new IoT devices. Data processing at the network edge reduces the time to process IoT data and decreases the utilization of cloud networking and processing resources.

What does it have to do with Privacy & Security?

Moving data processing to the network edge rather than centralizing it at cloud-based or on-prem servers has a number of impacts on privacy and security, such as:

  • Data Minimization: With edge computing, data can be filtered before it is sent on to the main servers in the cloud or data center. This reduces the amount of potentially sensitive data that is sent over the network and processed on these servers, reducing the potential for data leakage.
  • Decentralized Infrastructure: With edge computing, sensitive data and processing capabilities are distributed across the edge of the network. This can make securing this infrastructure more complex because an organization cannot protect all sensitive data and applications behind strong perimeter defenses.
  • Edge-Based Security: In addition to creating additional potential data and application exposures, edge computing also provides opportunities for improved security. Edge-based security solutions like IoT security move security functionality to the network edge and even secure the IoT device, enabling potential threats to be detected there rather than limiting security functionality to the traditional network perimeter.

What to consider if moving to edge computing

Edge computing can provide a number of benefits to an organization. With the growth of IoT technology, the ability to make rapid decisions at the network edge – rather than relying solely on centralized servers – can dramatically improve the performance and productivity of the devices and the workforce that relies upon them.

While edge computing introduces new security and privacy challenges, it creates potential opportunities as well. By deploying security functionality at the network edge, an organization can achieve significant security benefits, such as:

  • Edge-Based Threat Detection: With edge-based security, threat detection and prevention happens at the entry point to the network. This minimizes the probability of a successful cyberattack and the potential impact it has to the network.
  • Improved Network Efficiency: Traditional perimeter-based security models force traffic to be backhauled through the headquarters network for inspection. With edge-based security, security inspection is performed at the network edge, reducing the network traffic across the WAN.

Check Point offers edge security solutions for IoT, including security for the IoT device. To learn more about IoT device security, check out this whitepaper. You’re also welcome to request a demo of IoT device security to see its capabilities for yourself. Also, get a free  IoT device firmware assessment.

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