Is IIoT Secure? 5 Tips to Protect Your Factory

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Disruptive innovations come with risks. Think about the recent tragedy involving a self-driving car in Arizona. While this is an extreme example of what can happen when technology fails, it’s a reminder that safety must always be a priority.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is no exception. Operational technologies (OT), such as plant-floor equipment and machinery, have traditionally lacked exposure to the type of attacks that IT systems face. But now more manufacturers are tying their IT and OT systems together as they adopt IIoT technologies.

We understand that companies have concerns about security when connecting their devices to the Internet. Fortunately, there are strategies manufacturers can implement to secure their IIoT investments.

1. IT and Operations Must Collaborate

The operational side typically doesn’t consider security requirements, so it may lack an organized security practice, notes Gartner contributor Susan Moore. However, a primary focus for IT is protecting information. This is why IT and operations need to collaborate early in the IIoT implementation process.

“IT and OT cultures are not incompatible, but they require executive guidance to realize initial alignment,” Moore writes.

2. Know What You Have

A simple, yet often overlooked safeguard is knowing exactly what IIoT devices you have in place and where they’re located.

“You can’t secure what you don’t know you have, so an effective IoT security strategy must begin with a comprehensive inventory of all networked assets,” according to an IndustryWeek article by contributors from Crowe Horwath LLP. “In addition to known and authorized devices, the inventory also must capture unauthorized or previously unmanaged devices, such as security cameras, monitors, machine sensors and other devices that have been plugged into the company’s network by employees or vendors without the IT department’s knowledge or participation.”

 

3. Opt for Multi-Layered Security

Make sure your IIoT network doesn’t rely on a single technology for security. For example, Google Cloud offers security at the device and network levels as well as security for apps running on the network, data storage, and hardware. With Oden’s IIoT solution, all data sent over the network is encrypted and transmitted over a secure VPN connection.

 

4. Stay Up-to-Date

Don’t ignore updates or patches.

“If a device is running out-of-date software, it may contain unpatched security vulnerabilities. Such vulnerabilities may allow exploitation of the device and its data by attackers,” notes the IoT Security Foundation.

This includes updated an IoT device’s firmware to the latest version, “which incorporates all current bug fixes, vulnerability fixes, and mitigating or compensating controls,” according to Crowe Horwath.”

5. Assess and Test

Continuously assess your security. This includes risk-based analyses with business impact statements, Crowe Horwath suggests. This will allow you “to prioritize projects and make the most of limited resources.”

Security issues related to IIoT are rare. Taking a few precautions can ensure IIoT technologies remain safe. Don’t hesitate to consult with IIoT experts to determine how you can safeguard your system while reaping the benefits of a smart, connected enterprise.  

How Do Cloud-Based Analytics Work?

By | Blog

Cloud-based analytics is at the heart of every major technology company. Data analysis itself is a common activity in any business, but when it takes place in the “Cloud,” it can truly change the way that a company operates.

In the technology industry, “The Cloud” refers to a network or group of networks that give connected devices access to shared pools of resources like servers, applications, and services. The internet is an example of this type of network, and therefore, any internet connected device is a part of the cloud.

Cloud-based analytics provides a handful of tools that enable companies to extract insight from large data sets, present those insights in an intuitive and understandable way, and make it all available via a web browser.

 

Data Centers

Most cloud-based analytics systems run on a network of secure data centers, which are owned by some of the biggest tech corporations in the world including Google and Amazon. These data centers are regularly upgraded with most efficient computing hardware, and this is also what makes cloud services much more reliable.

The servers, in addition to other hardware at a data center, is what physically supports a cloud-based analytics platform. It makes data accessible at very fast speeds and ensures that if a company’s internal systems malfunction, all of the data will still be safe at the data center.

 

Cloud-Based Analytics

First and foremost, a cloud-based analytics system must be hosted on some sort of platform or website over the internet. Usually, this is a software system that takes data inputs, processes the information, and provides feedback. This is obviously dependent on the platform itself, but there is always something in common — the data that is collected gets uploaded to the “Cloud” and is safely stored so that it can be accessed by any internet-connected device.

In regards to manufacturing, a cloud-based analytics system usually connects with various hardware devices that all incorporate sensors and communication modules. These devices constantly collect information on the performance of the factory’s operations. The data that gets collected from a machine is uploaded to the cloud and managed on an analytics platform.

A business can choose to build their own, in-house platform, or they can decide to use a third-party service. Usually, a service is cheaper, and these services already have built out functionality that can benefit a company immediately.

The functionality that is provided via a cloud-based analytics platform is made possible through proprietary algorithms that can organize, process, and make meaning out of data. This data goes through various mathematical equations and produces values that are represented in intuitive ways to the users.

A cloud-based analytics platform can provide tremendous value for a company versus an offline version. By being connected to the internet, users will also have the ability to integrate offline data into their datasets with the click of a button, for far greater insight.

 

Cloud-Based Analytics and AI

Cloud-based analytics also paves the way for any future integration of artificial intelligence in a company’s operations. AI is only as powerful as the data that it is utilizing to make its decisions, so by having a digital data infrastructure, you are building the foundation for future tools that will be made available by service providers.

For example, in a manufacturing setting, it is important to track information about the performance of a machine. There are already tools that are available for manufacturers to track and upload this information to a cloud-based analytics platform. Once this data is uploaded, it is processed by the platform’s algorithms and learns about the machine.

In the field of AI, machine learning is a subset that refers to a computer’s ability to learn by itself. As more powerful machine learning algorithms are developed and made available, cloud-based analytics platforms will gain the ability to learn by on their own. One major benefit of this is that the platform is then able to more accurately predict future outcomes based on all of its previously collected data. This will translate into more efficiency, and allow you to avoid things like unplanned downtime. This is why having a cloud-based analytics system is so important.

 

Improved Functionality

The true value of cloud-based analytics comes from the improved functionality for the user. With data being uploaded to services that function over the internet, users gain more accessibility and value. Data is managed more efficiently and represented in more intuitive ways. Cloud-based analytics presents a big opportunity for any business, so if you have not made the transition to the cloud, this might be the best time for it.

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