Edge Computing: A Catalyst for a New Data Protection Approach | Automation.com

Edge Computing: A Catalyst for a New Data Protection Approach

Edge Computing: A Catalyst for a New Data Protection Approach

By Jason Andersen, VP of Business Line Management, Stratus Technologies 

With today’s increase in frequency and complexity of cyberattacks, security and data protection are suddenly at the forefront of many industries including industrial and manufacturing. What’s more, new technologies like edge computing are emerging so quickly that these industries need to start thinking about protecting physical infrastructure and data at the edge. In fact, the industrial internet of things (IIoT) is becoming more advanced and the edge is getting smarter and smarter, changing the way that data is used, valued and protected.

Traditionally, edge systems had one function: process automation. Data from the edge was used to alert operators of issues that required attention. However, modern edge systems are making more real-time decisions and taking humans out of the equation all together. This means that the data that is generated at the edge is much more critical for real-time decision making and analysis, as well as for identifying trends and benchmarks. With this shift, there is a lot of talk about the surge of security concerns alongside the emergence of edge computing, especially with the increase in connected devices at the edge. That poses the question, are industrial professionals a bit misguided in thinking that connecting devices at the edge is inherently less secure?

The short answer is yes…and no. While the edge is not less secure than other emerging technologies, it does require a new approach to security and data protection.

 

A Shift in Thinking

As the data being guarded at the edge is now a strategically important asset, organizations must expand the way that they view the integrity of this data. Yes, system availability is still critical but equally important is securing the data and remaining compliant. Applications that process the data need to properly perform without corrupting any information in the process. This new shift in approaching data protection also means guaranteeing the data is moving to the real-time analytics engines with adequate latency and connectivity that is safeguarded with top notch security.

What said, it’s critical to adopt a new mindset and consider how data stored at the edge is being regularly handled. From sensors to storage, data protection at the edge is key in making the environment just as secure and resilient as it is smart.

 

Benefits of Edge Computing for Security

While professionals need to start thinking about securing data at the edge differently, that doesn’t imply that the environments are inherently less secure. In fact, deploying OT security software upon edge computing is actually highly secure, as the technologies together add another layer of security through threat detection from its proximity to critical data and applications. Edge computing also gives OT professionals the ability to analyze any security risks that arise in real-time, keeping production cycles and mission critical applications up and running.

Overall, as with any emerging technology, there are concerns about the security and safety of housing data at the edge. But if met with a new way of thinking and an understanding of the benefits the technology brings, industrial professionals can rest easy knowing that deploying edge can help to minimize potential risk in their environments.

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