Chief Marketing and Product Officer, responsible for all aspects of global marketing, product management, and alliances for StorMagic.

Video surveillance is more prevalent than ever. It’s growing in use and capability and is being used in creative new ways – not just to react when something happens, but for business insight as well. The value of any video may be unknown until it is needed, but when it is needed, its value is very high. 

Many organizations record 24/7, 365 days a year, on dozens, hundreds or thousands of cameras, usually at the edge — locations like retail stores, factory floors, transportation hubs and remote locations — where traditional IT infrastructure and practices are lacking. But what is the point if that video hasn’t been properly and securely stored and can’t be retrieved and used when needed? By definition, video at the edge must be protected and secured, perhaps for a very long time.

Physical And Digital Security At The Edge Today

Physical security protocols at corporate data centers are typically quite robust. They may staff security guards, require badge access and have an elaborate system of surveillance cameras just to monitor the IT gear. Video analytics are frequently relied on for facial recognition to detect, tag and identify individuals to ensure the data center is as safe as possible.

Physical security at the edge looks a lot different because they typically don’t have the staff or budget for the higher level of security present at the data center. This necessitates certain risk assessments and different strategies to prevent the theft of storage devices and small footprint servers that are usually used at the edge due to space constraints and cost. Stolen IT equipment from edge locations is a serious threat to corporate assets because bad actors would then have all the data. 

A best practice to guard against this awful scenario is to execute a strategy to encrypt all data at rest at every edge location. Frequently, these edge sites are not addressed by data center-class security policies because of the perception of cost or complexity. Encryption has become much simpler and less expensive to deploy than many IT teams realize. Encryption is what protects the data, but the keys to unlock the data for the right people or devices must also be considered. So, once the encryption plan is in place, the next dilemma is how to manage all of those keys. 

Superior Edge Security: Enter Key Management

Many organizations are dealing with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of edge sites, so the number of encryption keys could easily reach millions. A simple to use, centralized key manager is a critical piece of the puzzle that solves this edge data security problem. There are many ways to implement encryption key management, including hardware security modules (HSMs), virtual software approaches or cloud-based offerings. Organizations should take a two-step approach when implementing a key manager at the edge:

1. They should demand a key management system that delivers remote access and specifically the ability to remotely disable encryption keys in the event of a breach or theft. Deploying a remote encryption key manager has the potential to prevent someone from stealing the data from an entire IT system.

2. IT managers should ensure that their encryption keys are not stored at the edge location itself. Rather, they should deploy a centralized key manager elsewhere to store keys. This way, if any one system is stolen, the bad actors will have the data, but it will be completely useless because they won’t have the keys. 

Intelligent Tiering For Modern Video Data Management

The future of data management and security for video at the edge will include an intelligent tiering component to simplify management and improve access ability and speeds to video data. Hierarchical storage management revolves around machine learning (ML), a concept that is expanding and improving each and every day. 

Video security at the edge will continue to rely on AI and ML to analyze the usage of video at the edge and make decisions on where it should reside — whether it should stay at its current location, be moved to another edge location or be sent to the data center or cloud. Access needs can often be an important indicator in determining the best, most cost-effective storage location. AI and ML models can be trained to critically analyze video files’ contents and determine which storage tier is most sensible from both access and cost-management perspectives, such as analyzing for specific or unusual activity in a file.

When evaluating tiering options, organizations should plan to:

1. Build a storage system at the edge that isn’t completely reliant on flash or disk. While flash does deliver high performance when ingesting video footage, most video files begin to lose their value within just 15 minutes of capture. Keeping it all on expensive flash memory or spinning disk hard drives is overkill.

2. Build systems with the ability to move high-resolution data copies to lower-cost tiers of storage like tape or cloud but retain low-resolution files in flash in case that specific footage is needed quickly (i.e., for analytics, slip and fall research or incident tracking for legal purposes).

Today’s IT managers are facing more dilemmas than ever before. The proliferation of data growth and video data types are changing the landscape and underscoring the importance of edge data security. To ensure that dozens, hundreds or thousands of edge locations are properly locked down, organizations should introduce data security measures like encryption, centralized key management and advanced intelligent tiering options to eliminate the headaches and costs of video storage and security at the edge.


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