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An edge device is the network component that is responsible for connecting a local area network to an external or wide area network, which can be accessed from anywhere. Edge devices offer several new services and improved outcomes for IoT deployments across all markets. Smart services that rely on high volumes of data and local analysis can be deployed in a wide range of environments.

Edge device provides the local data to an external network. If protocols are different in local and external networks, it also translates this information, and make the connection between both network boundaries. Edge devices analyze diagnostics and automatic data populating; however, it is necessary to make a secure connection between the field network and cloud computing. In the event of loss of internet connection or cloud crash edge device will store data until the connection is established, so it won’t lose any process information. The local data storage is optional and not all edge devices offer local storage, it depends on the application and service required to implement on the plant.

How does an edge device work?

An edge device has a very straightforward working principle, it communicates between two different networks and translates one protocol into another. Furthermore, it creates a secure connection with the cloud.

An edge device can be configured via local access and internet or cloud. In general, we can say an edge device is a plug-and-play, its setup is simple and does not require much time to configure.

Why should I use an edge device?

Depending on the service required in the plant, the edge devices will be a crucial point to collect the information and create an automatic digital twin of your device in the cloud. 

Edge devices are an essential part of IoT solutions since they connect the information from a network to a cloud solution. They do not affect the network but only collect the data from it, and never cause a problem with the communication between the control system and the field devices. by using an edge device to collect information, the user won’t need to touch the control system. Edge is one-way communication, nothing is written into the network, and data are acquired with the highest possible security.

Edge device requirements

Edge devices are required to meet certain requirements that are to meet at all conditions to perform in different secretions. This may include storage, network, and latency, etc.

Low latency

Sensor data is collected in near real-time by an edge server. For services like image recognition and visual monitoring, edge servers are located in very close proximity to the device, meeting low latency requirements. Edge deployment needs to ensure that these services are not lost through poor development practice or inadequate processing resources at the edge. Maintaining data quality and security at the edge whilst enabling low latency is a challenge that need to address.

Network independence

IoT services do not care for data communication topology.  The user requires the data through the most effective means possible which in many cases will be mobile networks, but in some scenarios, Wi-Fi or local mesh networking may be the most effective mechanism of collecting data to ensure latency requirements can be met.

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Data security

Users require data at the edge to be kept secure as when it is stored and used elsewhere. These challenges need to meet due to the larger vector and scope for attacks at the edge. Data authentication and user access are as important at the edge as it is on the device or at the core.  Additionally, the physical security of edge infrastructure needs to be considered, as it is likely to hold in less secure environments than dedicated data centers.

Data Quality

Data quality at the edge is a key requirement to guarantee to operate in demanding environments. To maintain data quality at the edge, applications must ensure that data is authenticated, replicated as and assigned into the correct classes and types of data category.

Flexibility in future enhancements

Additional sensors can be added and managed at the edge as requirements change. Sensors such as accelerometers, cameras, and GPS, can be added to equipment, with seamless integration and control at the edge.

Local storage

Local storage is essential in the event of loss of internet connection or cloud crash edge device will store data until the connection is established, so it won’t lose any process information. The local data storage is optional and not all edge devices offer local storage, it depends on the application and service required to implement on the plant

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The Internet of Things plays an important role in today’s life, affecting a plenty of businesses and changing the way we work, live, and entertain. Coming up with workflow automation, remote equipment monitoring, inventory tracking, and real-time data collection, IoT promises to bring innovation in various industries.

Understanding high IoT potential, companies and corporations invest in IoT projects, startups, and initiatives. According to New IDC Spending Guide, the worldwide IoT spending is predicted to reach nearly $1.4 trillion in 2021. What’s more, Gartner research expects the number of IoT-enabled devices will be about 21 billion by 2020.

Though IoT provides many advantages and opportunities, there remain IoT security risks and challenges, that now are of the highest concern. Since today almost everything can be hacked, businesses have to look for and integrate new security mechanisms allowing to ensure data and device protection.

 

The main IoT security risks

 

1. Data Leaks

Smart devices collect and transmit various data that may involve such important information as credit card numbers, zip codes, customer locations, camera images, IP addresses, and much more. A leakage of private/personal/business/financial data can lead a company to money and reputation losses, and harm people’s lives.

2. User verification

Misconfiguration and default passwords use are common reasons for the appearance of device/data vulnerabilities. That’s why engineers should implement the ability for customers to create their own passwords while establishing the highest level of password reliability that all users have to follow.

3. Lack of regulations

Unfortunately, there are often no regulations for IoT devices. The creation of a standards-based approach to security should be a top-priority task for companies, organizations, and even governments.

4. Unknown surveillance

Often unprotected IoT devices can be accessed by any remote user or at least can be easily hacked. The consequences can be poor: for instance, streaming and selling private videos and images (including those from stores, shopping centers, etc.).

 

IoT security recommendations

 

1. Focus on data traffic monitoring. Imagine a cloud IoT solution, that monitors both inbound and outbound traffic, traces all suspicious activities, blocks unsafe communications, instantly alerts users and the central system about potential problems, and prevents data leaks.

2. Implement end-to-end encryption in your application, the most reliable way to protect user data. Famous mobile messengers WhatsApp and Viber added the support of e2e encryption long ago. If your project implies many data/user communications, you can use this approach too.

3. Use reliable tools that help ensure data confidentiality and privacy as well as build a secure and scalable data storage. Integrate a feature of suspicious activity and malicious code monitoring. For example, today we can see an increasing use of AI technology for real-time security monitoring.

4. Focus on testing activities. When developing an IoT solution, pay a lot of attention to the testing/QA process. It’s much better to prevent any security issues at the pre-release stage than waste time for bug fixing after.

5. Integrate a Blockchain decentralized approach. Since Blockchain is based on cryptographic algorithms, it helps protect and manage data. Blockchain has all transactions (interactions) recorded, so the history of smart devices will be also recorded. At the moment, the use of Blockchain for securing the Internet of Things is one of the emerging and most promising trends.

 

As you see, there are really good ways to minimize IoT security vulnerabilities. Here I should note that one of the best recommendations for developing a successful IoT project is to apply to a reliable IT company that would focus on security and data privacy issues. Also, when choosing the company, pay attention whether it meets the GDPR requirements, which will be especially important from the regulation enforcement on May 25, 2018.

 

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