The Risks of Edge Computing

Edge computing exposes organizations to some security risks, but these can be mitigated with proper planning.

Image: ArtemisDiana/Adobe Stock

With the explosive growth of IoT devices and the associated deluge of data, organizations are under more pressure than ever to find ways to reduce latency and improve performance. Because of this, edge computing, the technology that brings computation and data storage closer to the devices that generate the data, is growing in popularity.

According to a recent study by Research and Markets, the global edge computing market is expected to grow from $11.24 billion in 2022 to $155.9 billion in 2030, a compound annual growth rate of 38.9 % is equivalent to.

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But as with any new technology, adopting edge computing comes with risks.

The Risks of Edge Computing

Security issues around the edge

One of the biggest risks of edge computing is security. Users are aware of this, according to a recent AT&T survey of 1,500 companies. The survey found that organizations expect to spend between 11% and 20% of their edge investments on security.

Security is a big risk for several reasons:

  • Data processed outside of the traditional corporate firewall is more vulnerable to attacks.
  • Edge devices are often deployed in uncontrolled environments, so they can be subject to physical tampering or damage.
  • As more devices store data at the network edge, virtual security risks also increase: For example, deploying hundreds of edge computing devices creates a larger attack surface and opens the door to security breaches such as DDoS attacks.
  • Identifying and provisioning edge devices also presents new challenges for security teams. Edge devices are often spread across a wide geographic area, making it difficult to physically secure them all. Because edge devices are often connected to other devices and systems, they can provide an opportunity for attackers to gain access to an organization’s network if it is not adequately secured.

Consequently, appropriate physical, network and cloud security measures such as Secure Access Service Edge must be in place to protect data processed at the edge. Otherwise, the risk of a security breach outweighs the benefits of using edge computing.

The cost of edge computing

Cost is one of the primary considerations when assessing the feasibility of edge computing. While the potential benefits of deploying an edge network are significant, the costs associated with managing and maintaining an edge environment can quickly become prohibitive. This is especially true if edge deployment is not carefully planned, executed, and managed. For example, as new IoT endpoints proliferate, managing them effectively from a central location can become increasingly complex.

Additionally, because edge computing requires both hardware and software, organizations must carefully consider the total cost of ownership before deploying an edge solution. Hardware costs can be significant as organizations often need to purchase new equipment or upgrade existing equipment to support edge computing. For example, organizations may need to purchase new routers, switches, and servers to support an edge deployment. Additionally, they may need to upgrade their network infrastructure and bandwidth to handle the increased traffic generated by edge devices.

Software costs can also be high, as companies often need to purchase or develop new applications specifically for edge devices. These applications must be able to work in a distributed environment, manage the data generated by edge devices, and integrate with the rest of the organization’s IT infrastructure.

One way to control costs is to partner with a managed service provider that offers full support for edge deployments. This can help ensure that the deployment is successful and that any cost issues that arise are resolved quickly.

The sheer volume of data

The sheer volume of data generated by edge devices can also pose a challenge for businesses. Edge devices generate large amounts of data that need to be stored, processed, and analyzed. Therefore, organizations need to have the infrastructure in place to support this data growth and to be able to manage and use the data effectively. Organizations unprepared for this flow of data may be overwhelmed and have little visibility into what’s happening at the edge of their network.

Fitting edge components into existing network architectures

Another challenge companies face when deploying edge computing is fitting the new edge components into their existing legacy network architectures. Edge devices are often deployed in remote locations and need to communicate with the rest of the organization’s IT infrastructure. This can be challenging as many existing network architectures are not designed to accommodate edge devices. As a result, organizations may need to make significant changes to their network architecture or purchase new network equipment to support an edge deployment.

Edge computing is growing in popularity as more businesses seek its benefits despite the risks. While these risks may seem daunting, a careful and considered approach to deployment can effectively mitigate them.

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