Securing the Future: Helping Companies Innovate at the Edge
July 11, 2022
Ryan Smith and Ron Lev
Innovating at the Edge and the Constraints of Traditional IT Security
As companies are undergoing the metamorphosis of digital transformation in today’s era of cloud computing, they are often using technologies at the razor’s edge (pun very much intended) of what is possible. Edge computing is one of these examples where in order to continue to innovate, companies are pushing distributed compute resources outside the confines of the traditional datacenter to process, store, and analyze data closer to where that data is produced within the enterprise. Edge cloud architectures strive to make this distributed processing and compute power available on a single, global network, allowing companies to take advantage of the power of decentralized compute. Internet of Things (IoT) devices and applications in manufacturing is one of the many use cases surrounding edge computing that is forcing companies to adopt these technologies at a phenomenal pace.
The benefits of edge cloud computing cannot be understated. Edge cloud has a number of benefits over traditional cloud. Companies are able to reduce latency, increase resiliency, and reduce costs by adopting the edge. Because data is processed closer to where it is created, companies can enhance the performance of their application stacks and significantly improve the customer experience. Since companies have to send less data to the cloud for processing and analytics, they are able to increase the total cost of ownership of their applications by reducing their cloud spend. Meanwhile, applications become more resilient as they rely on distributed resources purpose-built and location-built for their needs.
Because of these benefits, Cox Edge is able to solve a number of use cases for today’s modern, cloud-enabled businesses. Gaming companies can use this to reduce latency between their servers and the gamers, greatly increasing the performance of their games and ensuring a happy community of gamers who often rely on speed and performance in today’s world of esports. We have already discussed IoT being another use case that benefits from edge computing architectures. Any company delivering content in today’s digital world – from media and entertainment companies to social media to consumer retail and tech – benefits from Cox’s global, real-time content backend that is able to deliver dynamically with the aforementioned performance benefits. And modern enterprise IT teams can benefit from edge analytics getting them closer and closer to real-time insights that can drive key supply chain decisions, reducing overhead costs and increasing profit margins in a competitive economy.
However, the pace of innovation on the edge of modern business is often faster than traditional IT security teams can move to adequately architect, monitor, and secure those environments. Innovation outpacing security is a story as old as time within the industry, but with the proper security methodology and tooling, enterprises can secure their businesses at the edge of (cloud) innovation and beyond. Let’s explore the current state of security in Edge computing, what security methodology and tooling companies can adopt to address their security posture, and how businesses can think about innovation and security to future-proof their risk posture for the next 100 years.
The Current State of Edge Cloud Security
Lack of security observability - Security challenges are increasing in scale and complexity with the adoption of new technologies such as the Edge Cloud. IT teams are increasingly being asked to monitor and respond to threats across a number of exploding modalities: on-prem/cloud, new internet connected devices, new and evolving application architectures, across SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS infrastructure. These factors have expanded the attack surface and provided attackers with more ways to reach their targets. It's imperative for companies to have tools and processes that can adapt to the expanding attack surface and go beyond traditional threat detection.
Lack of supply chain security - One of the advantages of edge computing is the ability to take advantage of a variety of heterogeneous resources that may or may not come from the same vendor. Widespread use of open source projects in edge cloud computing have highlighted the need for organizations to pay better attention to code provenance. Scanning, hunting, and patching are all critical activities for companies to be able to not only understand their infrastructure topology but what components make up that infrastructure stack and the risk posture associated with each individual component. This level of security understanding will be essential to a company’s ability to do vulnerability and risk management in edge cloud environments.
Lack of compliance auditing and automation against infrastructure - Hand in hand with lack of visibility and increasing complexity in the software supply chain used in our application stacks, comes the lack of auditing automation for compliance and risk posture purposes against the infrastructure in an edge cloud environment. Everything from identity and access management questions to RBAC permissions management to configuration management of devices to data, application, and network security policies of the edge are now under the purview of GRC teams. And because the teams running these edge stacks are usually not within the traditional corporate IT umbrella, this problem is magnified. However, security and compliance cannot be ignored in these environments as these edge architectures and application stacks are being used to store and process large amounts of sensitive information and information that is often subject to regulations like PCI, HIPAA, NIST, etc. Therefore, not only gaining visibility in these environments but the ability to enforce compliance policy in these environments will be of growing importance to risk and compliance teams worldwide.
Security Risk Management and Tooling for the Edge - Cox Edge + Deepfence Securing your Future
Cox Edge is deeply committed to the security and integrity of its customers' data and infrastructure. Cox Edge understands the trust that comes when an enterprise places its application stack in their cloud environments and particularly when it comes to adopting a new technology like Edge computing. Companies that choose Cox Edge can rest assured that they will get the resiliency and performance benefits of the edge and unparalleled security when it comes to edge-cloud environments.
Cox Edge has partnered with Deepfence, a cloud native security observability and protection platform, to bring enterprises unparalleled security visibility, insights, and analytics to better help security and compliance teams address some of the above-mentioned challenges with security observability and vulnerability and risk management in an edge-cloud distributed infrastructure.
ThreatMapper, Deepfence’s open-source product, can now be included with any compute service (Virtual Machines, Containers and Kubernetes) deployment a customer makes within the Cox Edge.
Customers leveraging this offering will have access to a few key components of ThreatMapper:
First, is asset and inventory management, which is the cornerstone of security observability. Deepfence sensors will be able to give a company a complete picture of the infrastructure deployed within their environment – from the cloud layer down to the individual processes running on the containers and hosts. Companies will no longer be blind to what their environment in the edge looks like and will be able to monitor for any new infrastructure that gets brought up within that environment and immediately know its risk posture.
Second, ThreatMapper is a public cloud and edge cloud platform for scanning, mapping, and ranking vulnerabilities in runtime containers, images, hosts, and repositories. By marrying the attack surface with runtime indicators of attack (IoA) and indicators of compromise (IoC) and architecture, Deepfence is able to show companies not only where their architecture is vulnerable in production but also where that architecture is leaving active, exploitable attack paths open to threat actors. This prioritization of threats not only by severity and CVSS but by exploitability in the attack lifecycle can then help DevOps teams decide where to focus their limited resource sets, ensuring maximum risk coverage for the business by impacting the bottom line of protecting sensitive data.
Lastly, ThreatMapper is able to bring together other scanning features such as runtime SBOMs (important to open source and supply chain security), secret scanning, and compliance scanning of infrastructure to give enterprises unparalleled insight into the risk and compliance posture of assets in their environment. This level of security visibility native to your edge cloud environment cannot be found in other clouds and will allow an enterprise’s application and development teams to align to the same level of security as the rest of the infrastructure under IT’s control.
ThreatMapper and ThreatStryker
For companies that want to go a step further in enhancing their security in the Cox Edge, there is Deepfence ThreatStryker. ThreatStryker provides access to cloud native protection features, such as packet and network filtering, and workload firewalling as well as the ability to customize and correlate alerts relevant to their business. Companies that choose to upgrade to ThreatStryker will have runtime correlation and protection mechanisms to give deeper levels of security enforcement for risk management teams within the business. These features are also beneficial in combating zero-day attacks within the environment and preventing further lateral damage or spread in compromise scenarios.
Together, Cox Edge’s unparalleled performance, resiliency, and total cost of ownership coupled with Deepfence’s unmatched security insights will empower businesses to innovate toward the future without being dragged down by the constraints of traditional security monitoring solutions, architectures, and team capabilities. Together, we can secure the future, while empowering you to deliver applications at the speed of modern business.