The backbone of Industry 4.0 will be a trusted and secure Industrial IoT

Last updated: 01 April 2019

Move fast and break things’ was a mantra once lauded for empowering disruption and pushing innovation with little regard for the status quo. But recent revelations have brought to light the unintended consequences of such an approach. When you look at the Internet of Things, it is easy to see similar parallels between how it is evolving and previously championed technology revolutions. And what happens in the next few years will have a profound effect on the latest megatrend to appear, Industry 4.0 or The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Those involved in the IoT ecosystem must not only comprehend a multitude of standards and protocols but must also tackle widespread fragmentation in each country where their solution operates.

And that is before we come to the complexity of designing secure devices. We already know that countless consumer IoT devices are riddled with security vulnerabilities. 2017’s Mirai and Reaper attacks enslaved millions of connected devices and transformed them into zombie botnets capable of bringing down web services across the world.

That’s why everyone involved in the Internet of Things has a responsibility to implement robust security, authentication and identification solutions. It is one thing to have your router at home hijacked, quite another for national infrastructure to be compromised. But that is the threat right now, so the security of the business-to-business part of the IoT, the Industrial IoT, is paramount. This is already worrying governments, regulators and investors, so it is critical that the ecosystem comes together to prove that it can be trusted to run services while minimizing and mitigating threats as much as possible.

The dawn of the Industry 4.0

Thanks to advances in science and technology we’re entering a new era of industry where physical, digital, and biological spheres are coming together to automate societies.

At the core of this new movement is data collected from billions of sensors and devices that are then analyzed to improve processes, provide insights and enhance our understanding of the world. Industry 4.0 is a concept that is slowly being built and will become formalized over the next decade.

But for it to come to fruition, the Industrial Internet of Things is going to have to mature significantly. We have been thinking how organizations can ensure that in a world of automation—especially in manufacturing—security is not compromised.

We recently spoke to Eric Prevost, Head of Industry 4.0 at Oracle to hear his thoughts on IoT security. This interview covers his optimism for the future of the IIoT, and how organizations can manage data across a mix of internal and external systems.

We are working to ensure:

  • End-to-end encryption for all communication between IoT devices, machines and back-office systems.
  • Data is protected at rest, both from illicit access and from being altered.
  • Strong authentication and identity management exists for all human interactions with IoT devices and data.

Furthermore, the efforts conducted need to ensure the following principles of the CIA:

  • Confidentiality means only allowing authorized people to access data and devices.
  • Integrity means being able to verify that data and devices have not been tampered with.
  • Availability means being able to reach data and devices and nominal IoT services all the time.

These foundational practices ensure that manufacturing now becomes smart and end-users are protected. And that is essential as we’re starting to see concerns come to light about existing systems where security is not at the level expected for national security.

Do you have any thoughts on Industry 4.0 and how security of the Industrial IoT should evolve?  It’s one of the most exciting emergent megatrends but work and collaboration will be required to fulfil its true potential. For more on this topic, and the wider area of IoT security, check out our microsite here.

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