Skip to Content

Towards a digital renaissance

February 4, 2021

The exponential growth of new edge technology will lead us to a completely new digital world. Though there are several definitions of Edge computing, for the purposes of this article, we will consider it as any computational power outside data centers and/or clouds.

The challenge of edge computing as an enabling technology for increasingly distributed needs is changing the emerging technological landscape and seizing the ensuant development opportunities for companies and service providers.

Accelerated by the ongoing pandemic emergency, the extensive expansion of edge computing technology is paving the way towards a new digital world, one in which cybersecurity issues take on even greater importance.

According to Gartner, only 10% of the data generated by the companies is currently created and processed outside of a traditional data center or cloud. There will be an increase of 75% in the total data produced and processed by companies using the Smart Edge model over the next five years.

This trend will strengthen the decentralization of IT resources related to the Digital Workplace, the extension of campus networks, cellular networks, data center networks, cloud computing resources and the data itself. However, the very extension of the IT architecture perimeter requires another high level of security and data protection.

What impact does such an expansion have on the cybersecurity approach? The configuration of a constantly growing edge – which includes cloud providers, smart cities, augmented reality (AR), and the widespread use of artificial intelligence (AI) in Industry 4.0 – is challenging both service providers and telecommunication companies. At the same time, there is a huge possibility of expanding business through new applications.

The evolution of edge computing entails important infrastructural challenges:  the problems and solutions related to the management of a huge flow of data – both in download and upload – are exposed. These have, with the recent widespread use of teleworking and agile work, increased exponentially. Greater diffusion of cybersecurity, but also particular attention to the methods of data protection and the transparency of data archiving and backup services.

We are already able to provide a wide range of different use cases that will redefine the business model of any specific industry sector:

  • Automotive – Connected cars, which interact with the driver but also directly with other cars (Bluetooth or LiFi) to obtain road conditions by sharing shock absorber data. You will have a personal device, e. a black box, which will work as a smart key, showing the car status for you and your car status, to prevent accidents.
  • Smart Home – Local sensors and sensor correlation, with cloud support to analyze and share home data. The actuators that will handle any environment-related service will be in our homes tomorrow. The smart home will also monitor the physical safety and health of the people living there.
  • Industry and robotics – Automate and manage dangerous and tedious processes with minimal human support. IoT is the most common scenario associated with edge computing where the barrier between IT and OT is completely breaking down, allowing control from the cloud using virtual digital twins of physical devices and enhancing predictive maintenance processes.
  • Smart devices – Smartwatches, wearable devices, and health devices allow us to monitor our location and our activities and collect health data that can be processed and shared with smartphones, tablets, PCs, and cloud providers.
  • Smart payments – Payments will be increasingly using a smartwatch, smartphone, virtual badge using the features of digital Banking, such as PSD2.
  • Telco and media Software-defined networking (SDN) and 5G will ensure better bandwidth, flexibility, elasticity, and low latency in network performance. We will be able to use cloud services to the limit by leveraging the containerization capacity and portability of the cloud workload. This will provide a potentially infinite range of services that we can bring to our homes, our vehicles, our offices by connecting things, people, and digital services and creating a smart digital service mesh around us.
  • Energy and distribution Edge computing can help manage energy across enterprises. Sensors and IoT devices connected to an edge platform in factories, plants, and offices are being used to monitor energy use and analyze energy levels in real-time.

The opportunities related to edge computing are far beyond and to take advantage of them we cannot forget the role that security, privacy, and compliance (for example the EU GDPR) will have.

The increase in available digital services means that there are more security risks and threats we should be managing. There are many security challenges that arise from the rise of edge computing:

  • End-user Identity – Technologies such as MFA will help to ensure that only the owner of a device will be able to control it. Mutual authentication of edge devices will help guarantee that the flow of information will be controlled and managed only between trusted devices.
  • Data – Encryption in transit and at rest must be guaranteed, protecting the key used and using an open standard for encryption.
  • Device OS and software – While new vulnerabilities are discovered, device OS- and software level patching are complex activities to be performed on a huge number of devices.
  • Physical tampering – Guarantee that data cannot be extracted, or the device tapered is crucial while data and computation are on the edge.

These challenges are the new security edge that we will face henceforth, and we must balance the accessibility of digital services with the related risk trying to find the right mix between digital transformation and preservation of our privacy.

The security journey to the edge is like the shift from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Medieval cities resembled fortified castles that protected their citizens, resources, and gold. Similarly, legacy IT with perimeter firewalls, intrusion detection, web application firewalls protect the boundaries of legacy IT.

The digital renaissance of cloud and edge computing is destroying the barrier between the datacenter and the external world. The Golden Treasures of 2020 are our data – both our personal and our business data that we need to protect.

We need to understand that:

  • Expectations that perimeter defenses will be overcome
  • Current garrison- based controls are inhibiting missions that require collaboration and omnichannel communication.
  • The diffusion of an organization’s perimeter requires the implementation of data, applications, and service smart- centric controls.
  • Renewed emphasis on inappropriate exponential propagation and derivation, using smart, proactive cybersecurity detection systems, differentiating between admission and access, securing applications and services in addition to the infrastructure.

The security of our data must be guaranteed not only inside the cloud but also on the edge using innovative technologies such as machine learning, predictive security, IoT and endpoint protection, secure API gateways, etc. The new world of the edge will provide an infinite mesh of secure services that will allow us to satisfy all our needs, be they personal or business-related, passing from the bastions of the late medieval city to the open city of the digital renaissance.

This article takes inspiration from the discussions I had during the Italian Conference round table.

Visit the Capgemini website to learn more about  Capgemini’s Cybersecurity Services.

Follow me on Twitter andLinkedIn