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Synadia 2019 Predictions: A Move Toward Decentralized Security and Identity Management

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2019.  Read them in this 11th annual series exclusive.

Contributed by Colin Sullivan, Product Manager at Synadia

A Move Toward Decentralized Security and Identity Management

Given the explosive growth of IoT and edge computing, there is a need to evolve beyond the standard security and endpoint management models we have today to a model that can truly scale, independent of provider - cloud, edge, telecom, or otherwise.  With 25 billion connected devices by 2021, no single central authority can or should be used to identify and apply policy to billions of these endpoints.  We will need end-to-end, decentralized security over a zero trust communications system.

As the number of devices, applications, and endpoints exponentially grow, we're approaching the edge of our ability to aggregate and control our data, much less secure that data.  We're seeing this data explosion give rise to edge computing in order to relieve and distribute data processing pressure from back-end and cloud resources.  Unfortunately security around this has been lagging with multiple models glued together to secure different components throughout the IoT hardware and software stack.  Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others have done a great job in centralizing and securing identities in the cloud and their gateways, but at some point still has to map identities between different models, which is problematic at best. The sheer volume of mapped identities between persons, devices, and machines will be astounding.  This and the data to secure will become troublesome to manage, especially as markets mature and we see acquisitions and mergers create IoT deployments of unforeseen proportions.

As this growth continues through 2019, in order to effectively secure and manage endpoints we will need to decentralize security and identity management. Therefore, we will see a paradigm shift from thinking of security in a centralized context to a decentralized context where security is administered by various operators (internal organizations, companies, vendors, etc.), each securing different components of the distributed system with the same mechanism, albeit in a distributed and manageable manner.

To that end I predict: 

Security efforts in IoT, edge computing, and cloud will move toward a decentralized model.  This might occur as a zero trust distributed system having authentication and authorization driven by various operators of the system, but not within the system itself.  This will be the only way to effectively manage billions of devices, applications, and endpoints securely and with trust.  Imagine end to end communication platforms that never hold or access private keys, instead relying on secure operators to manage private keys outside of the system.  An operator that is compromised won't jeopardize the entire system.  Operators would allow their administrators to apply individual security policies as they need, and revoke or refresh keys as necessary.

Data flow policies between defined silos of the application, device, and endpoint ecosystem will also need to be decentralized - data flow will only be permitted when the various operators of the system, not the distributed system itself, mutually trust each other, effectively decentralizing authorization.  For example, an enterprise operator would set policy and provide a cloud based back-end, and each regional operator managing millions of devices would only be permitted to send and receive data to the back end when both agree and apply the data flow policy on both sides.  Either can revoke at any time to stop the flow of data or availability of services.  Scaling up, adding regions would simply involve the enterprise operator and regional operators agreeing to allow data flow to a new region.

I predict 2019 will be the year the market unveils the need for a new, decentralized security, authorization, and authentication model to scale for IoT, edge, and cloud computing.   Granted, it will take years to move to a decentralized model, but the market need will become clear sooner rather than later.


About the Author 

Colin Sullivan 

Colin Sullivan, Product Manager at Synadia

Colin has been managing and developing messaging products and distributed systems for over 20 years at Synadia, Apcera, TIBCO, Talarian, and PLATINUM.

Published Tuesday, February 12, 2019 7:15 AM by David Marshall
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