Marketing, Technology

Benefits and Risks Associated With Edge Computing

In 2017, it was discovered that around 10% of enterprise-generated data was being created and processed outside a traditional centralized data center or cloud. By 2025, however, Gartner predicts this figure will reach 75%, this is a clear case that edge computing is gaining steam.

For a business to thrive, the outright mindset will be to make huge returns on investment and to this end, it’s expected that there will be concerted efforts at cutting costs especially those that are considered irrelevant. Another way to cut costs is by reducing waste such as is seen in bandwidth and that’s where edge computing comes in.

Apart from the pressure on resources that are brought to bear by bandwidths and networks, some other driving forces that are responsible for the expected growth in edge computing include a growing scale of projects, an increase of IoT devices, and the need for quick data analysis across multiple IoT use cases

If you also consider the fact that Intel founder Gordon Moore, says that by 2040 the world’s energy production will not support our computing capability, you will see a good reason for edge computing coming along to fill any possible void that will be created by the limited power of modern cloud computing.

It will, however, be very premature in thinking if you have to plunge headlong into edge computing because of the supposed benefits without considering the associated risks. The simple fact that you have decided to add more data-generating devices to your network in more locations is something that could give you sleepless nights. 

If you then add the worrisome aspect that they are physically remote and you don’t have the capacity to adequately monitor them, you have landed yourself another kettle of fish altogether and one that will give you a whole lot of cybersecurity problems to contend with.

Barika Pace, research director at analyst firm Gartner has this to say about the security risks of edge computing, “Security at the edge remains a huge challenge, primarily because there are highly diverse use cases for IoT, and most IoT devices don’t have traditional IT hardware protocols. So the security configuration and software updates that are often needed through the lifecycle of the device may not be present.”

This goes a long way to show that as regards edge computing, it’s absolutely very challenging as well as difficult to track the threat landscape. The basic reason for this difficulty is that the devices you will use in edge computing are often very small and are not usually built with the mindset of security. 

Most of the time, you completely sideline any updates that may deem necessary. Hackers who are always on the prowl for soft spots to launch their attacks see this as an easy entry point, which they exploit to gain access to your main network where your edge devices are connected to.

If you have decided to get on with edge computing, it’s paramount that you carefully take into consideration the security of the devices along with the network before embarking on it. You must ensure that the systems are so designed to talk to each other over-controlled networks that are carefully secured by the operator. 

You cannot afford to go for a device that was launched into the market to score points, the aftermath will be jeopardy. The inherent risks will not only be on your physical security alone, but you must also consider digital attacks as well as your cybersecurity issues.

Pace also lent a voice to this when she said that “From a cyber-physical perspective you’re not only protecting the data, now we’re getting to a state where we’re protecting the physical.” The effort at trying to protect the physical will definitely make your task a bit more herculean. 

The bulk of the problem here comes from the designers of these devices. It’s important that they employ security by design as the fundamental to securing devices on the edge. From the volume of security cases that arise from devices on the edge, it’s glaring that they have not taken this into contention.

In the interim, the only option you have at the moment is to ensure that someone visits the devices regularly. This, however, can never be a means to an end, it’s both costly and time-consuming as well as defeating the very essence of technological advancement which is the very reason for initiating hand-off sensors initially.

Taking into consideration that edge computing is gaining so much momentum and you will want to utilize it to cut costs which will translate to a higher ROI, you must not do it on the cheap. It will turn out to be a very costly mistake.

Go for devices that have relevant features and characteristics. The prices may jolt your budget but at the end of the day, you’ll be happier for it.

Photo Credit: Steve Nimmons | Author Flickr via Compfight cc

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About John Ejiofor

John Ejiofor is a curious life-researcher, whose quest to finding answers to life's pertinent questions has led to founding Nature Torch. This blog aims to debate and explore many questions about our earth -- including those a lot of people are uncomfortable with asking. He has been published on some of the internet's most respected websites, which you can find online.
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