What Are Edge Devices?
An edge device is a piece of hardware that connects to the boundary of a business’ or home user’s network. Common edge devices include routers, routing switches, and network-attached storage devices.
These endpoints are often overlooked by cybersecurity administrators, who instead focus their time on securing computers and servers. As a result, they become vulnerable holes in a company’s security.
A recent study conducted by Cisco Talos found that a malware called the “VPNFilter” had infected over 500 000 routers across the world in May 2018. They stated that routers from the manufacturers NETGEAR, Linksys, TP-Link, and MikroTik were all known to be affected. While this malware has since been de-escalated in threat level by efforts of the cybersecurity and law sectors, the incident still illustrates the importance of securing your edge devices.
Although it is unknown how the malware was able to infect so many devices, it was discovered that many of the infected were running out-of-date software that made them particularly vulnerable. Many were also prone to attack due to publicly-known exploits for these devices based on unchanged configuration settings or backdoors.
Devices such as routers are shipped with default logins that are meant to be changed during configuration. These default credentials are public knowledge, and can be easily found online. However many users often neglect to change the credentials on their device, leaving it open to attack. In another vein, these devices also often have ‘backdoors’ – unconventional ways of controlling the device used by system administrators and law enforcement – coded into them. However, if a cyberattacker gains access to the backdoor they would have full control over your device.
How Do You Protect Yourself?
While it is essential for companies to either have in-house cybersecurity staff or a cybersecurity provider, there are also many IT hygiene practices that can reduce your risk of becoming infected by malware. Here are some of our recommendations:
- Constantly monitor your edge devices for suspicious activity
- Ensure that the login credentials on your devices have been changed from their default configuration
- Use Network Segmentation
- Only purchase edge devices from reputable retailers
- Centralize security to only secure terminals