What is IoT Edge?

Internet of Things (IoT) devices with limited compute and storage capacity benefit from an edge computing model where these compute and storage resources are distributed closer to the edge and the IoT devices. Here we discuss the role of IoT Edge in an IoT architecture that uses an edge computing model and how to secure this IoT architecture.

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What is IoT Edge?

The Goal Of IoT Edge

Just as edge computing aims to bring resources and data storage closer to the sources themselves in order to improve response time, latency, and other issues, IoT Edge aims to achieve similar goals. IoT devices inherently encompass a significant amount of data that can interrupt user experience and security. IoT Edge computing processes its data closer to the origin source to reduce any friction or latency within the cloud.

Edge devices are computing systems deployed near the location of the user or device that uses them. This geographic proximity minimizes the network latency between the edge device and its user, enabling it to provide faster and more reliable services.

IoT edge devices are intended to provide additional computing power for resource-constrained IoT devices. IoT devices can collect and transmit data to IoT edge systems and rapidly receive results without needing to perform calculations themselves. Essentially, 

IoT Compared With IoT Edge

The differences between IoT and IoT edge depend on the capabilities of the IoT device. IoT devices are physical systems that collect data for processing. Edge devices are the devices that perform that processing.

Often, IoT devices are resource-constrained, meaning that they lack the computational resources required to process their own data. In these cases, they may send data to an edge device for processing, creating a clear distinction between IoT and edge. If that edge device is close enough to the IoT device and has enough computational power, it may be able to process data and make decisions quickly enough to be considered part of the IoT edge.

In the event that an IoT device can perform all necessary data processing on-device, then an edge device is unnecessary. In this case, the terms IoT device, IoT edge, and edge device may be used interchangeably to refer to the same device.

Why Is An IoT Edge Important?

IoT devices need to be able to quickly process and make decisions based on the data that they collect. If these devices lack the processing power to do so on-device, they require access to low-latency, reliable data processing.

IoT edge devices can meet these requirements because of their geographical proximity to the IoT devices that they serve. With an IoT edge, companies can deploy latency-sensitive applications on IoT devices, and IoT systems can rapidly react to and mitigate issues without the need to perform resource-intensive computing on-device.

IoT Architecture

The traditional IoT architecture is composed of four layers, including:

  • Sensor Layer: This layer is responsible for performing the data collection, which is the role of IoT devices.
  • Network or Data Acquisition Layer: This layer is responsible for aggregating data from multiple sources and transferring it to processing devices. Data acquisition systems (DAS) are responsible for data collection and aggregation, and network gateways provide secure connectivity between devices.
  • Data Pre-processing Layer: At this layer, data undergoes pre-processing and basic analytics to reduce the volume of data transmitted to cloud infrastructure. This is where IoT edge devices fit into the IoT architecture.

Cloud Analysis or Application Layer: Cloud-based services perform in-depth analysis of collected data and make it available to applications and users. This layer may also include data storage capabilities.

IoT Edge Security

IoT edge devices move data processing capabilities to the network edge rather than centralizing them on cloud-based servers. This shift has both positive and negative impacts on IoT and data security, including:

  • Data Minimization: IoT edge devices perform pre-processing and basic analytics on collected data before forwarding it on to cloud-based infrastructure. This preprocessing helps to reduce data volume and the amount of sensitive information that is transmitted over the network and processed at a centralized location, reducing the probability that sensitive data will be leaked.
  • Decentralized Infrastructure: IoT edge devices distribute data processing over multiple devices at the network edge, which has its benefits and drawbacks. Decentralization helps to improve the reliability and fault tolerance of data processing infrastructure; however, it makes security more difficult because devices cannot be protected by perimeter-based defenses.

Edge-Based Security: IoT gateways and security solutions help to address the security issues of IoT edge devices. By moving security functionality to the network edge and providing security directly to IoT devices, these solutions help to identify and block potential threats there, improving the overall corporate security posture.

IoT Security with Check Point

Check Point offers a range of IoT security solutions, including protections for IoT edge solutions and the IoT devices themselves. Check Point also offers firmware assessments for IoT devices to help identify firmware security issues and recommend strategies for mitigating them.

To learn more about the security risks of IoT devices and how to address them with Check Point solutions, check out this IoT Protect solution brief. Then, to see the capabilities of Check Point’s IoT security solutions for yourself, sign up for a free demo.

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