Digital transformation and economic growth are two key themes, closely related to the future of connectivity. One of the most important challenges that organisations of all types face in relation to digital transformation and its evolution to the cloud, which to a large extent benefits from next-generation connectivity, is that of cybersecurity or IT security.
As John Chambers, former CEO of Cisco, says: “I think there are two types of companies; those that have been hacked and those that have not yet realised it”. In this context, and as part of the technologies that will be key in the coming years: what is Edge Computing and what does it offer in terms of IT security?
The importance of Edge Computing
Edge computing, also known as computing at the edge, is an innovative technology for data storage and processing, which emerges as an alternative to address some of the limitations currently presented by some cloud computing services:
- System overload: With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the development of smart cities and the large number of energy sensors (smart grid), millions of mobile devices are connected to the Internet every day. Many of these devices require very low latency or response times, which conventional cloud services struggle to provide due to their physical distance. In addition, the growing volume of traffic they generate could saturate the central nodes where they are currently processed.
- Lack of control over end-to-end connectivity: the cloud may be far away from users and in some cases, traffic may traverse unsecured networks on its way.
Edge computing technology is based on a distributed system that brings information processing closer to the edge of the network, i.e. to the device or person that generates or requires the information. This technology, coupled with 5G and fibre access networks, solves the problems of latency, connectivity and possible congestion in the cloud.
The importance of this service lies in its efficiency. Imagine a patient in a hospital who has his health device connected to the Internet. A transmission of information with the lowest latency and the best connectivity (for which a good 5G and fibre coverage is also essential) could save the patient’s life.
Within that context, it is also important to understand how Edge Computing poses new challenges for cyber security.
Keys to Edge Computing and IT Security
Some studies, including one by Zhang, Chen et. al. (2018), suggest adapting some of the solutions embodied by other technologies to Edge Computing. For example, Cloud Computing. In this sense, some contributions have been generated:
- Integrity. Data integrity is about preventing unauthorised persons from accessing and modifying the system.
- Availability. One of the most important attributes of computer security is that information is available for consumption. Distributed processing technology brings information closer to the user. It also provides a greater ability to perform maintenance in the event of incidents.
- Secure data search. Depending on the service/application, data is encrypted on edge servers, so static search systems can no longer operate. Alternatives such as dynamic search have emerged. This allows users to search by keyword without the need to decrypt the data.
With the development of Edge Computing and next generation networks such as 5G, these problems will gradually be solved as new standards and security measures are developed.