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Bold Predictions and Cybersecurity Go Hand-in-Hand in the IIoT

January 2021
27
Author: Wibu-Systems
Company: WIBU-SYSTEMS AG
Bold Predictions and Cybersecurity Go Hand-in-Hand in the IIoT

Tis the season for bold forecasts by analysts and industry pundits opining on global trends, predicting the “next big thing” and the challenges that lie ahead. Whereas the promise of the IoT and its billions of IoT-connected devices were top of mind over the past few years, the Industrial IoT fueled by digital transformation is now getting its share of attention. Machine learning, artificial intelligence, big data, predictive analytics, and the Cloud are the buzz words that serve as the backbone of the promise of Industry 4.0.

Here is a sampling of some of the predictions focused on IIoT:

While the IoT reputably got its start in smart homes and smartwatches/fitness apps, we'll see a lot more to the IoT in the coming year. This is because the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has been a focal point of industry dating back to the programmable logic controller of the late 1960s. Now, we are seeing industrial shift to "industry". Forbes

Faster adoption of industrial automation – the disruptions in manufacturing, supply chains, maintenance, and other operations caused by the pandemic create a greater demand for automation. While many industries were in the early stages of industry 4.0 adoption in 2019, and ROI is still being determined, this year’s crisis has demonstrated the advantages of automation and faster digital transformation. Technologies such as robotics, machine learning, and remote maintenance will experience a significant boost as industries will focus on reducing the need for operators on the factory floor. IoT Times

Businesses across all industries are accelerating their adoption of IoT devices as they look to update their business processes to increase productivity and efficiency to meet the changing environment caused by the pandemic. The rapid implementation will continue in 2021 as businesses look to automate, keep employees safe and improve upon some of the new benefits revealed by the adoption of new technologies. The IoT will help to transform a variety of industries with automation, and new insights from the data devices produce will help businesses improve and create new and innovative ways of conducting business. RFID Journal

The near ubiquity of connected machines will finally disrupt traditional business. Manufacturers, distributors, utilities, and pharma firms switched to remote operations in 2020 and began connecting previously disconnected assets. This connected-asset approach increased reliance on remote experts to address repairs without protracted downtime and expensive travel. In 2021, field service firms and industrial OEMs will rush to keep up with customer demand for more connected assets and machines. ZDNET

In 2021, increasing availability of 5G will provide the launching pad for manufacturing to truly evolve to Industry 4.0, the new industrial revolution that will push industries forward. Connected factories will move from isolated pilot programs and early test cases to truly integrated ecosystems, from the factory floor to the entire supply chain. Enterprise IoT Insights

It’s difficult not to get caught up in the excitement and potential of the IIoT – the ability to combine historical data with real-time operational information and predictive analytics will enable industrialists to assess potential outcomes and behaviors that will help process optimization, asset management, analytics, and modeling simulation, ultimately delivering a dramatic improvement in overall business efficiency. Of course, there is always another (dark) side to the unbridled enthusiasm generated by new technology. In this case, the dark side is cybersecurity. In the many year-end wrap-up stories, there was also much written about cybersecurity in conjunction with IIoT, particularly in light of the recent vulnerabilities (Amnesia 33 and Ripple 20) found in TCP/IP stacks that serve as the foundation of millions of connected devices.

A blog post by IoT Central emphasized the need for the convergence of IT and OT as IT cybersecurity practices that work in the enterprise are not always appropriate for industrial environments. Furthermore, IT typically does not have expertise and insight into operational and process control technology. The author pointed out that “organizations will need solutions that strengthen cybersecurity while meeting IT and OT needs. For IT, that means visibility and control across their own environment to the OT network. For OT, it means security solutions that allow them respond to anomalies while keeping production humming.”

This sentiment is right on point for Wibu-Systems as this is an area of great interest for us. In the past several years, we have worked diligently with the Industrial Internet Consortium and other industry organizations to emphasize the importance of understanding the differences between IT and OT and how they must work together to effectively protect industrial systems. You can find a detailed discussion on the need for IT/OT convergence in IIC’s publication, Industrial Internet of Security Framework, that was produced by the IIC’s Security Working Group.

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