Websockets offered a truly standardized cross-browser solution to real-time, duplex (bi-directional) communication between web browsers and web servers bringing desktop-rich functionality to all web browsers. This enabled both upstream and downstream communication through a single connection (instead of two) leading to a drastic reduction in unnecessary network traffic as well as improved latency while loading webpages.

What Isn’t Working

One of the major security issues with this protocol is the absence of an effective authentication or scrambling method for communicating parties by default. An attacker can exploit this disadvantage and insert fake devices for monitoring traffic or expose the privacy of users. In other words, WebSocket is more vulnerable to the insertion of fake devices because these protocols do not provide authentication by default. So for the protection of networks from fake devices and injections of new vulnerabilities affecting billions of sensors and devices being inducted, enterprises need a new approach. Moreover, websockets don’t scale easily since the basis primarily is a push-based strategy requiring too much overhead to connect with low-power edge devices.

The Way Going Forward

The ideal solution is an edge compute friendly, modular, security overlay network infrastructure that, despite running over an untrusted host and edge network, enables edge devices to securely connect online from dispersed locations, and is multi-cloud friendly at the same time. Enterprises must also be able to take advantage of such a network-centric, security architecture that has basic firewall as well as identity authentication and access management built-in foundationally. Such a network should ideally allow programming devices securely, over the air, and in real time. Lastly, such a security architecture must include a user-friendly interface for facilities operators to implement seamless manageability and usability.

Key Takeaway

Industrial enterprises with dispersed assets and diverse data sources are increasingly realizing that relying on standard Websockets is simply futile. It is more vulnerable to the insertion of fake devices. This vulnerability leads enterprises to scale back on expanding the data sources. Aside from that, achieving economies of scale is also a bottleneck. The digital enterprise of tomorrow needs an identity-centric, multi-cloud friendly, network-security based model that is akin to a global virtual LAN running seamlessly over the untrusted public Internet. Websockets can still seamlessly run, if required, on top of this new security layer that remains invisible from the public Internet.

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