Enjoying security and availability in IIoT-era manufacturing

Enjoying security and availability in IIoT-era manufacturing

With Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology, sensors are attached to physical assets, which gather data, store it, and employ analytics and machine learning to derive business intelligence and take appropriate action. In a perfect world, this chain of events occurs seamlessly, with no hiccups between asset and business decision — and no security risk.


That’s in a perfect world.


Grim pictureThe IIoT is bringing about huge disruption in the industrial sector. On one hand, this disruption can be a good thing, a sign of growth and evolution; however, there is a potential downside and even danger with all this change. The 2020 State of Operational Technology and Cybersecurity Report from Fortinet provides some unsettling numbers:


  • High risk – Ninety percent of organizations have experienced at least one operational technology (OT) system intrusion in the past year — up 19 percent from 2019; 65 percent of organizations have experience three or more intrusions — up 18 percent from 2019

  • Noncompliance – Forty-four percent of organizations don’t track and report compliance with industry regulations or with security standards

  • This situation can be seen as an inevitable outcome as more sensors and devices means invariably an expanded attack surface. But an already difficult situation becomes more difficult when decision-makers attempt to put out each little fire that breaks out.

    “With all these new connections, and inevitable points of weakness, the risk is definitely there,” said Interware Systems Managing Partner Ed Fung. “Unfortunately leaders may opt to cover each new exposure as soon as it appears. It’s a well-meaning approach but it results in higher infrastructure complexity. As visibility is a foundation stone of strong security — the ability to see everything — then this approach seems unhelpful, and in the long run dangerous.”