Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Industrial IoT Framework Targets Security 

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The brick and mortar of an industrial Internet of Things is arriving with a security framework designed to balance the safety and reliability requirements of industrial operations with an attempt to define the "trustworthiness" of emerging manufacturing networks.

An industrial IoT security blueprint released on Monday (Sept. 19) by a two-year-old industry consortium stresses five characteristics for bullet proofing industrial networks: safety, reliability, resilience, security and privacy. "IIoT security cannot be considered in isolation," the group noted in a statement releasing the plan. "It comprises a complex set of industrial processes and applications as well as significant safety and reliability requirements."

Founding members of the Industrial Internet Consortium include AT&T (NYSE: T), Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO), General Electric (NYSE: GE), IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC). Other members include cyber security specialist RSA, the security arm of recently merged Dell-EMC.

The group said its framework also defines IIoT risks and threats as well as performance indicators and other metrics as industrial enterprises link equipment and other devices with sensors that can be used, for example, to implement predictive maintenance schemes.

The group added that its framework separates security considerations into functional areas such as communications, configuration management, endpoint security and monitoring. Meanwhile, best practices for each area are targeting IIoT component and systems builders along with industrial end users.

"Many industrial systems simply do not have adequate security in place," asserted Richard Soley, executive director of the industry consortium. "The level of security found in the consumer Internet just won't do for the industrial Internet. In order to add security to an industrial system, you must make sure it won’t interfere with safety and reliability requirements."

As more expensive equipment is connected on the factory floor, the group argues that security concerns are being magnified. Hence, the framework will be wrung out as part of a test bed program, Soley added.

Among the technical issues raised by a connected factory floor are standards for reliable, high-throughput networks capable of securely handling latency-sensitive applications. To that end, industry standards bodies like the IEEE have released new networking standards designed to ensure interoperability and performance as the industrial IoT rolls out.

Among the new specs is a new Ethernet 802 standard that addresses "time sensitive networking" (TSN). The goal is an open networking infrastructure that supports interoperability for industrial IoT applications like real-time control and synchronization of automated manufacturing.

Among the goals of a TSN test bed established earlier this year by the Industrial Internet Consortium is developing secure links between the factory floor and "smart edge devices," the partners said.

Meanwhile, industrial automation is expected to be a key driver as IoT technologies are applied to manufacturing. Among the challenges for the industrial IoT are figuring out how to wirelessly connect very expensive equipment in the "challenging" communications environment of the shop floor running multiple communications protocols, market analyst IHS noted last year.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

2 Responses to Industrial IoT Framework Targets Security

  1. Giacomo Inches says:

    Hi, is it possible to know the name or webpage of the consortium releasing the blueprint? I could not find it in the article. Thanks in advance and best regards.

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