Your network doesn’t exist on a digital island. At the very least, it is probably connected to the world’s biggest network of all: the internet. The ability for just about anyone on the planet to harness the internet’s power to corrupt your network is the very reason edge protection is so important.
Edge protection is terribly misunderstood when it’s reduced to little more than a robust firewall. Firewalls are certainly a big part of edge protection, but they are just one spoke in an extraordinarily complex wheel. To truly maximize edge protection, firewalls must be supported by a variety of other strategies like zero trust policies.
An Ever-Expanding World
The internet is an ever-expanding world that could ultimately prove limitless. Back when the public internet first became a thing, the number of players on the global network was fairly limited. That’s no longer the case. The internet has expanded exponentially over the last 30 years. So much so that it would be impossible to count the total number of connections at any given time.
In addition, we also have the internet of things (IoT) to worry about. It is no longer just hackers working on laptops in dimly lit rooms. Enterprises now need to be concerned about everything from BYOD and smart devices to security systems and robots. Every IoT connection represents yet another attack surface.
Edge protection is all about defending those attack surfaces. It’s about eliminating potential threats by hardening the outside edges of the network. The harder the edge, the more secure the network.
Hackers Have the Advantage
Hillstone Networks routinely works with clients to bring them up to speed on edge protection. A common thread among many of our new clients is a failure to understand why edge protection is so important. The simplest way to explain it is to say that hackers have an advantage here. There are so many devices on the edge that they can usually find something to exploit.
The edge is where threatening traffic enters a network. If hackers can gain control of edge devices, they can do a lot of damage on the inside. That is exactly what they do. Hackers focus on IoT devices, mobile devices, and a diverse range of network points that IT staff without security experience may not even think of.
What do they do when they get in? They:
- deploy malware and viruses
- launch ransomware attacks
- steal valuable information.
A compromise network can also be used as a staging point for further attacks on other networks. This only complicates matters further. It is all made possible when organizations don’t take edge protection seriously.
Hacking in a Sensor Driven World
One could argue that the biggest edge threat is the seemingly innocuous sensor. Any kind of sensor that collects data and sends it across the network is an IoT device capable of opening a network to an outside attack. That being the case, think about the number of sensors that are connected to your organization’s network.
Hillstone Networks has worked with clients whose networks included thousands of sensors. All of them represent an attack surface if they are open to inbound and outbound internet traffic. Give a hacker that many surfaces and see if he doesn’t try to exploit them.
If your network is connected to the internet in any way, shape, or form, hackers can find a way in. Your organization’s cyber security strategy must account for edge protection as the first line of defense against them. Ignoring the edge only invites potentially devastating attacks.
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