Physical Security Is Critical to Edge Computing Deployments

For many Managed Service Providers (MSPs), security has become the No. 1 topic when discussing IT services with customers. The discussion typically revolves around cybersecurity for obvious reasons, but partners need to also broach physical security with customers, especially as edge computing starts to increase the number of deployments.

As Internet of Things (IoT) implementations get under way, local edge computing sites will bring near real-time requirements for data processing and analytics for some applications and in turn, the applications and data must reside closer to the “things” and users.

Whether it is an enterprise with hundreds or thousands of edge computing sites or SMBs who have a handful, those sites, by their very nature, will require the same level of security as data centers because they will be handling critical business applications. The other side of the cyber security coin is physical security because physical breaches by people at edge computing sites, whether nefarious or unintentional, can lead to costly downtime.

This being the case, MSPs in their security discussions with clients should address the need to physically monitor, supervise and control access to edge computing sites – all of which are functions you can provide as part of your security offerings.

Physical Breaches

While cybersecurity gets a lot of attention because logical breaches tend to be more publicized and can clearly cause significant damage, physical security is just as critical. It’s important to realize that in some cases, cyber attacks start with physical breaches.

Remember Stuxnet? It was a computer worm that was used to wreak havoc with Iran’s nuclear program. For it to work, the worm had to physically be introduced into the program’s systems through USB flash drives. Someone had to literally get a hold of a computer to plug in the drive and let the malware do its job.

But not all physical security breaches are intentional. There are countless examples of individuals unwittingly unplugging critical systems or pushing buttons that cause downtime and data losses.

In May 2017, an outage at a major airline that stranded 75,000 passengers for days was caused by human error. Someone disconnected a critical system that shut down the airline’s data center, forcing the cancellation of 800 flights and losses of hundreds of millions of dollars for the airlines.

Service Components

Physical security of edge computing sites involves three components: 

  • Monitoring the physical space with sensors to maintain proper temperature and humidity levels on a constant basis, as well as detecting sudden environmental changes caused by fire, smoke, flooding or some other damaging event.
  • Controlling the space by managing who has access to buildings, rooms and the physical racks that house servers, storage systems and networking gear.
  • Supervising the environment with video and audio controls.

Sophisticated solutions are available to MSPs to provide physical security as a service to customers. Some solutions include intelligent components that work together to prevent unauthorized use. For instance, when someone opens the door, a camera on the wall or attached to a rack will start to record what happens until the person leaves.

Certainty in a Connected World

These sophisticated physical security solutions protect customers’ infrastructure investments and deliver peace of mind, bringing customers Certainty in a Connected World. For MSPs, they create a revenue stream by allowing you to monetize a much-needed service. It’s another opportunity to add value for customers and fulfill your role as a trusted IT advisor. For additional resources on edge computing and it business applications for MSPs, visit our edge computing solution site.

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