Industry 4.0 security and the cloud

23 January 2018

An industry disruptor

Industry 4.0 is changing the way manufacturers – and many other organizations – think about their businesses. It challenges traditional staff roles, machine management, investment, supplier and customer relationships, streamlining processes and creating an agile structure to support this new, more efficient and innovative way of working. It’s living up to its name as the fourth industrial revolution. 

 

The data enabler

The fourth industrial revolution is all about data; the enabling of communication between multiple data sources for holistic, agile and fast analysis and action. For this reason, cloud technology is a core enabler for Industry 4.0, supporting its data demands with vast storage, real-time access, networking and computing capabilities. Looking specifically at predictive maintenance, the cloud provides organizations with cost-effective real-time updates, responsive support, scalability and transparency.

“The end of ‘Fashion-IT’ — customers will only pay for value and not technology.”
Sunny Ghosh, Director and CEO of Wolf Frameworks

The use of cloud computing is not new; it is widely used for data-heavy applications, including software (CRM solutions, social media), corporate email and document storage. Its attraction is its data storage capacity, scalability, access on the go, and of course cost. It is a proven tool and has brought high technology to the masses rather than preserving it for the benefit of only the largest organizations.

 

Is Industry 4.0 a security risk?

As a foundation of Industry 4.0’s interconnected universe and in today’s world of headline-grabbing hackers, the cloud has been placed under increased scrutiny for its security. Has it stood up to the scrutiny? In terms of Industry 4.0, arguably, yes it has; as these new networks are created, security is built in from the outset. Is the scrutiny a fair reflection of risk? Perhaps, perhaps not. Many organizations sensibly choose to separate cloud-connected networks from operations networks and keep sensitive equipment ‘airgapped’ from the cloud – but often the biggest risk is not in the cloud, but in internal networks and leaks in the airgap. Often the biggest security threats such as the recent Meltdown and Spectre calamities are internal. Ensuring staff are mindful of security, updating passwords, ensuring antivirus software is up to date, encrypting data, keeping on top of permissions, maintaining a firewall; these are some of the areas which are critical in maintaining a secure network. However, any addition to a network carries additional risk and needs to be properly assessed.

For more information on security, see our blog Is Industry 4.0 secure? which includes a checklist for creating a security mindset from day one.

 

Transparency is key

Of course, it is in an Industry 4.0 cloud solution vendor’s interest to demonstrate the required robustness and security. To achieve this, transparency is high on the agenda, with IT audits and independent infrastructure testing becoming commonplace. All Industry 4.0 vendors should be able to supply security documentation to answer any questions and provide IT teams with the information they need.

“Cloud computing is often far more secure than traditional computing, because companies like Google and Amazon can attract and retain cyber-security personnel of a higher quality than many governmental agencies.”

 Vivek Kundra, Executive Vice President, Industries, Salesforce.com.

 

Industry 4.0 and the cloud

Industry 4.0 is driving innovation and taking industry to the next level. Without doubt, the cloud is a key enabler of this, offering the agility, storage and accessibility required, but with benefit comes risk. As with any addition to an IT network, these risks need to be understood and managed within an organization’s network security policy for minimal impact, to ensure that organizations are no more or less vulnerable to hackers. The most important thing is innovation is given space to flourish, without being held back by fear of risk.

 

About Senseye

Senseye™ is the leading cloud-based software for Predictive Maintenance. It helps manufacturers avoid downtime and save money by automatically forecasting machine failure without the need for expert manual analysis. Its intelligent machine-learning algorithms allow it to be used on any machine from any manufacturer, taking information from existing Industrial IoT sensors and platforms to automatically diagnose failures and provide the remaining useful life of machinery.

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