The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is essentially a network connectivity system of industrial devices working in sync to collect and interpret data in order to enable new-age insights and streamline business processes. Devices or appliances within the spectrum of IIoT can range from even the smallest sensors to large industrial types of equipment.
If implemented efficiently, it can help drive intelligent & productive functioning environments for production plants, utility providers, power stations, amongst others. The notion of predictive maintenance and distribution management systems themselves could possibly save large amounts in relation to outgoing costs, while also helping vital infrastructure to run smoothly. However, similar to the case of any IoT network, if the security features of an IIoT environment are not implemented properly, it can have a significant impact on the cybersecurity of an entire system, offering cyber attackers multiple avenues for hacking into industrial systems with lasting consequences that go well beyond data theft.
The risks of new technology are slowly becoming pretty apparent and transparent. Around a decade or two ago, cybersecurity solutions weren’t given much importance as organisations and individuals fundamentally were not aware of the potential threats posed by connecting PCs to the internet. However, that slowly changed once computer cyberattacks starting increasing at an alarming rate. Similarly, if badly installed, IIoT devices can generate unforeseen vulnerabilities. It is extremely common for cyber villains to discover vulnerabilities in systems that have a vast number of users across the world. The major threat to IIoT is that still a growing domain, which implies that a lack of standards and a bunch of tech companies eager to launch products in the market is a recipe for danger. The solution to this is employing software/systems to analyse the network and retrieve real-time data on what sensors and other unique devices are present in an IIoT environment.
A similar risk is that hackers could penetrate an industrial environment through other devices on the network, for example, with the use of a phishing email or deploying trojan malware to attain a foothold into a network common office PCs and IIoT devices. In general, IIoT devices should strive to run on a separate network in comparison to information technology which powers the rest of the organisation.
Article by Atin Chhabra, Global Director, Digital Customer Experience at Schneider Electric.
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