Securing IIoT networks: Will you meet the challenge?

By February 18, 2018Product News

There’s tremendous opportunity for operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) professionals right now, thanks to the digital shift. For business and project leaders, the key to success is understanding the complexity of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) networks and accompanying security risks and requirements.

This understanding presents real career potential for every IT and OT security professional who can get their arms around this new paradigm.

Information and operational technologies are merging. We know this. Industrial networks are interconnecting with enterprise networks. We know this, just as we're aware of the massive surge in the number and type of connected devices and machines.

Amid this digital shift, eliminating security obstacles is more important than ever.

Security: the foundation for Industrial IoT success

The vast potential of this digital transformation is tantalizing, certainly. The IIoT presents a security challenge on a scale never seen before. At the same time, securing the IIoT opens the door for digital innovation and exciting new career paths.

Understanding what the IIoT consists of and the environment it operates in will make its security challenges much more obvious. IIoT leverages the power of IP networking to connect industrial control systems (ICS) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems with enterprise business logistics. Inside all of these components is technology that enables each one to interact with the others, pick up intelligence about the external environment and share it with people.

Where the IIoT really moves into security overdrive, in a manner of speaking, is in all of the machines that are (or could be) connected. This list has no limits. It includes car and truck engines, wind turbines, boat engines, cargo shipping containers, robots, additive (3D) printers, oil drills and more.

The IIoT’s sheer complexity, diversity, and potential size, plus the critical nature of many of these connected machines, make security a tremendous challenge that calls for a new breed of cyber heroes.

How do you keep all of these networked things safe from hackers? Every component and every connection is a potential vulnerability. And in some instances, security breaches can be matters of life or death. (Consider hospitals being taken offline by ransomware.)

Suppliers of specialized industry equipment are pushing to connect their business systems to more quickly take advantage of new capabilities. In the rush, many are doing so without a security background or without fully understanding the security implications of how their new, connected devices and sensors affect the overall security of the organization where they’re being installed.

As a result, security issues in newly networked/connected equipment can shut down whole factories.

Read more: Securing IIoT networks: Will you meet the challenge?