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Machine Identities are Essential for Securing Smart Manufacturing

Machine Identities are Essential for Securing Smart Manufacturing

machine-identities-for-iiot
February 28, 2022 | Anastasios Arampatzis

The proliferation of smart things has reached an inflection point. Products with wireless connectivity from lightbulbs to thermostats to smart speakers have now become the norm in many households. In many ways, this technology explosion runs parallel to the digitization of industrial manufacturing.

Intelligent sensors on the factory floor exchange a large amount of data so manufacturers need to be certain that the information is valid and authentic. That’s where machine identities come in and the importance of managing IoT machine identities has never been more crucial.

 

Are you facing a machine identity crisis? Venafi can help you out.
Driving an industrial revolution

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) puts networked sensors and intelligent devices directly on the manufacturing floor to collect data, drive artificial intelligence and do predictive analytics. IIoT transforms traditional, linear manufacturing supply chains into dynamic, interconnected systems that can more readily incorporate ecosystem partners.

As key enablers of digital supply networks, IIoT technologies help to change the way that products are made and delivered, making factories more efficient, ensuring better safety for human operators, and, in some cases, saving millions of dollars.

Benefits of IIoT in the manufacturing sector

IIoT applications offer a great return on investment while enabling manufacturers to improve automation, visibility, customer-centricity, and time to market.

The following are six advantages of IoT in the manufacturing industry.

  1. Quality control
    In a typical quality control process, after manufacturers produce an item, it’s tested by quality control with the aim of rectifying flaws before the product reaches the market.

    IIoT makes this process proactive with sensors collecting complete product data through different stages of a product cycle. The products can also be tested at each manufacturing step to check if their attributes are within specifications. Integrating IoTs into monitoring both equipment settings and the outcomes of each production step helps manufacturers detect quality problems at the source.

     
  2. Inventory management
    Together with radio frequency identification (RFID), IoT makes inventory management an efficient and seamless process. Every item in the inventory gets an RFID tag, and each tag has a unique identification number (UID) with encoded digital information about the item. After RFID readers scan the tags, the data extracted gets transmitted to the cloud for processing.

    The role of IIoT involves transforming the data acquired by RFID readers into useful business insights. It creates a record of the location of inventory items, their status and their movements in the supply chain and gives users comparable results.

     
  3. Predictive maintenance
    Traditionally, manufacturers have employed a time-based approach for planning the maintenance schedules of their machinery and equipment. However, only 18% of equipment fail because of age, whereas 82% of failures occur randomly. This proves that a time-based approach is not efficient and may prove costly in the long run.

    Manufacturers can avoid such ineffective maintenance routines by leveraging industrial IoT and data science for predictive maintenance. By using IoT sensors on the equipment, they can monitor its operating environment and perform analytics using related data in the cloud to evaluate the actual status. Prompt service and repair enable more efficiency in the maintenance process, better allocation of work to field technicians and avoidance of downtime along with more significant cost savings.

     
  4. More safety in operations
    In combination with big data analytics, can be used to track KPIs like worker absences, vehicle mishaps, machinery damage and any other accidents that affect normal activities.

     
  5. Smart metering
    The manufacturing sector can benefit from IoT enabled smart meters to monitor the consumption of water, electric power and other fuels. IoT sensors allow organizations to gauge the specific use and deploy practices for more effective usage of resources.

     
  6. Smart packaging
    Smart packaging that uses materials with embedded interconnectedness enables, for example, consumers to engage with it and generates data to show how a product can be more effective.

The security challenges

Transitioning to a smart factory requires paying close attention to industrial IoT security. Overlooking IoT security challenges may interrupt company operations and negate the positive digital transformation effects.

The spread of cloud services and the advent of the Internet of Things have pushed enterprises to enhance security and rethink their company policies. Clearly, traditional firewalls and antivirus systems will not be sufficient; the complex IIoT infrastructure demands something more advanced.

An IIoT network needs an advanced security system: not only to ensure a non-disruptive smart factory workflow, protect employees and assets, but also to secure business-critical information from competitors.

In an enterprise setting, industrial control systems that are most prone to cyber-attacks include supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADA), programmable logic controllers (PLC), interfaces connecting humans and machines, and distributed control systems.

The most common IoT security threats include:

  • Device hijacking: this threat is usually hard to detect. A device will appear to be working in its usual fashion but in fact it is being controlled by threat actors to infect other devices. For example, a hijacked smart meter can infect other smart meters and eventually enable attackers to take control of an entire enterprise energy management system.
     
  • DDoS attacks: these IoT security breaches in an enterprise environment are some of the most harmful as they can shut down the entire enterprise.
     
  • Permanent DoS attacks: this type of attack damages the target devices permanently and is potentially capable of creating major disruptions to an entire enterprise workflow. Interrupted production, damaged equipment and defective products are some of the undesired outcomes of PDoS attacks.
     
  • Man-in-the-middle attacks: the attacker can damage one of the elements of the IoT infrastructure or interrupt communication between the two systems. The damaged system can further impact other devices or systems thus leading to a domino effect and serious physical damage.
     
How to secure industrial IoT

Ignoring IoT security in an industrial environment can be dangerous and lead to serious consequences. Ensuring security will ultimately involve complying with industrial IoT security standards and taking the following steps to protect your smart factory.

The key requirements for any IoT security solution are:

  • Device and data security, including authentication of devices and confidentiality and integrity of data
  • Implementing and running security operations at IoT scale
  • Meeting compliance requirements
  • Meeting performance requirements as per the use case

A number of organizations have developed security guidelines for the IoT. These include:


Why machine identities are essential for IoT?

Strong IoT device authentication is required to ensure connected devices on the IoT can be trusted to be what they purport to be. Consequently, each IoT device needs a unique machine identity that can be authenticated when the device attempts to connect to a gateway or central server. With this unique identity in place, IT system administrators can track each device throughout its lifecycle, communicate securely with it, and prevent it from executing harmful processes. If a device exhibits unexpected behavior, administrators can simply revoke its privileges.

Venafi can help with automated security that gives you the visibility and control you need to uncover suspicious misuse of keys and certificates on IoT devices. The Venafi platform identifies which keys and certificates are trusted and which need replacing. Coupling this information with an integration from IoT security leader Device Authority, you can quickly change who an IoT device trusts.

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About the author

Anastasios Arampatzis
Anastasios Arampatzis

Anastasios Arampatzis is a retired Hellenic Air Force officer with over 20 years of experience in evaluating cybersecurity and managing IT projects. He works as an informatics instructor at AKMI Educational Institute, while his interests include exploring the human side of cybersecurity.

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