Do You Need To Worry About Your Edge Computing System?

Jan 6, 2022
6 min read

What Is Edge Computing, And How Does It Work?

Edge computing refers to computing that brings intelligence, data processing, analytics, and communication capabilities down to endpoints or where data is gathered and provided to end-users, such as network gateways. By providing highly efficient networks and operations, improved user experiences, and service delivery, latency is reduced. Network performance and uptime determine whether a company succeeds or fails. Year after year, a company's reliance on performance and reliability will only grow. Cloud workloads will continue to migrate to the edge for this reason.

By 2027, the global market for edge computing is estimated to reach USD 43.4 billion. With new traffic demands and traffic patterns, 5G technology will help the edge computing business flourish. The edge is seen as a threat by cloud leaders, who have responded by spending substantially in the edge ecosystem alongside telecom providers. Individuals or companies who refuse to go to the cloud and instead stick to their on-premises computer servers are known as server huggers. So, if you're clinging to the cloud today, you might be tomorrow's cloud hugger, i.e., rejecting the move to edge computing and all of its capabilities and benefits, including cost savings.

Edge computing is a brand-new way of doing business. It's a decommissioned data centre that's physically closer to IoT devices, lowering costs and latency. Edge computing is a potent instrument that will usher in the future of autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, smart cities, and more. This data processing and analysis methodology will evolve in the future years. It's nearly inescapable because of the potential and lower cost.

Millions of IoT devices are distributed over the world, gathering and transmitting petabytes of telemetry and audio/video to servers for analysis. In the consumer sector, the internet of things is referred to as the smart home,' which includes internet-connected equipment such as lighting fixtures, thermostats, home security systems, cameras, and so on. The IoT brings together traditional domains such as embedded systems, wireless sensor networks, control systems, automation, transportation systems, vehicular communication systems, medical devices, elder care, and others. The bandwidth required to transport the data costs millions of dollars, and the distance involved causes latency problems. The data analytics computers were physically brought closer together to minimize expenses and increase quality, with only relevant and important data being transmitted through the cloud. This is what Edge Computing is all about.

Every new widely used computing technology comes with a learning curve for businesses and organizations. Edge computing, in which cloud computing is decentralized and deployed at or near data-generating devices, poses similar issues, not least of which is edge security, or the practice of understanding edge computing's cybersecurity vulnerabilities and countermeasures.

Advantages of Edge Computing

The following are the key advantages of edge computing over cloud computing:

Data handling that is better
Lower connectivity costs and improved security
Uninterruptible, dependable connection

Instead of sending sensitive data to a central data centre, edge computing allows you to filter it at the source. Less sensitive data is sent between devices and the cloud, which means greater security for you and your customers. Most IoT projects can also be completed at a lower cost by decreasing data transit and storage requirements using traditional methods.

Hacking and Physical Manipulation

In an edge-computing architecture, physical tampering of devices is a possible possibility, depending on their location and level of physical protection from adversaries.

By bringing processing resources closer to data sources, edge computing by its very nature increases the attack surface. Physical attackers aiming to breach entire edge networks have more territory to cover with an enlarged attack surface, but the fact that there are more devices in more places makes physical attacks that much easier to carry out.

After gaining physical access, attackers can:

  • Extract valuable and confidential cryptographic data
  • Node circuits can be tampered with.
  • Node software and operating systems can be changed or modified.

There's also the chance that an attacker will physically harm or destroy edge nodes, jeopardizing the network's effectiveness.

Injections of Harmful Hardware or Software

Cybercriminals can use a variety of hardware and software-based tools to corrupt, steal, alter, or erase data travelling within edge networks, especially when it comes to infecting and manipulating edge nodes, or servers and devices located at the edge.

Cyber attackers can inject unauthorized software and hardware components into the edge network, wreaking havoc on the efficacy of existing edge servers and devices and even allowing service provider exploitation, in which entities that provide the software and hardware solutions that enable edge computing to begin unwittingly executing hacking processes on behalf of the attacker.

Node replication, which involves adversaries inserting a malicious node into the edge network and assigning it an ID number that is identical to that of an existing node, is one such terrifying behaviour identified by IEEE researchers. Assailants can then take data from within the network, much like a covert spy stealing valuable intelligence from the opponent. They can even use node-revocation protocols to delegitimize other nodes in the network.

There's also camouflaging, in which attackers inject a fake edge computing node that looks and acts like any other - sharing, receiving, storing, processing, redirecting, and transmitting data packets - as well as hardware trojan injection, which gives attackers control over a node's integrated circuits, and thus its data and software.

Threats against Data Routing

A "routing information attack," or simply "routing attack," occurs at the communication level of an edge network and is another edge computing security concern to be aware of. Routing attacks influence throughput, latency, and data pathways by interfering with the way data is transported within a network.

In their work, the IEEE researchers discuss four different types of routing information attacks:

Black holds: Incoming and outgoing network data packets are simply erased during a black hole attack, guaranteeing that they never reach their intended destination. If the data needs to be retransmitted, this reduces throughput and can increase latency. The worse the network performs, the lower the throughput and the higher the delay.

Grey holes: A grey hole attack is similar to a black hole attack, except instead of removing data packets in a network all at once, it deletes them gradually and selectively. This is a more sophisticated attack than the black hole attack, and as a result, it can be more difficult to detect.

Wormholes: During a wormhole attack, packets are recorded at one network site, tunnelled to another, and then replayed. Research conducted at the University of British Columbia found that strategically placing a wormhole can disrupt 32% of all conversations across an ad hoc network.

Hello Flood: Finally, there's the Hello Flood attack, which involves a malicious node broadcasting hello packets to nodes pretending to be their neighbours, causing network routing confusion.

DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) Attacks

Another edge computing security concern to be aware of is distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, in which an existing network resource is overwhelmed with traffic from other compromised systems inside the network. Outage attacks, sleep deprivation assaults, and battery draining attacks are three well-known DDoS attacks carried out on edge computing devices, according to IEEE researchers.

When a DDoS attack forces nodes to stop operating completely, it is called an outage attack. A sleep deprivation assault occurs when attackers flood nodes with legitimate requests, preventing them from entering a power-saving mode, resulting in a significant increase in power consumption. A battery-draining assault, also known as a barrage attack, can trigger an outage by depleting the battery life of certain nodes or sensors by repeatedly running energy-intensive programmes or applications. Researchers also point out the possibility of jamming attacks, which can be continuous or intermittent. The network is swamped with counterfeit messages and disturbances during a jammer assault, which can exhaust resources at all levels: communication, computing, and storage.

Final Thoughts

The four edge computing security issues discussed in this article are just a few of the many that can affect an edge network and compromise sensitive data. It's critical to stay up to date on the current dangers to your edge computing setup so that you can be ready in the event of a disaster. Edge computing is generally seen as a secure computing paradigm as long as adequate cybersecurity procedures are implemented across the network. It's always a good idea to put your faith in manufacturers who have rules and practices in place to ensure that their edge servers and other edge computing solutions are secure.

Manufacturers who have obtained or are working toward obtaining their Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), are DFARS/NIST SP 800-71-compliant and have partnered with leading cybersecurity companies to offer operating system (OS) hardening and data-at-rest encryption key management for self-encrypting drives fall into this category (SEDs). To assist ward off hardware-based assaults, purchasing an edge server from a manufacturer with a Counterfeit Protection Program (CPP) and other stringent quality inspection systems in place is strongly advised.