What risks do businesses need to consider before launching the Industrial IoT initiative?
The evolution of the industrial internet of things (IIoT) is rooted back to 1968 when engineer Dick Morley made a significant breakthrough in manufacturing history. Today, this technology has garnered much more headlines as it provides companies with better intelligence, more informed decision-making, enhanced productivity, better asset management, and more. To put it simply, IIoT refers to a network of connected industrial devices and sensors, gleaning data, making analysis, and potentially facilitating improvements in productivity and efficiency. Unlike IoT, which is commonly used for consumer usage, IIoT is designed for industrial purposes such as manufacturing, supply chain monitoring, and management.
As Industrial IoT provides intelligence and the availability of connected devices, a breach in an IIoT environment could result in risks, including information leakage, product compromisation and damage to industrial controls, and others.
Risks Associated with Industrial IoT
IIoT gathers and assesses data to deliver new, meaningful insights and optimize business processes via a network of connected industrial devices. If applied correctly, it can drive smarter, more efficient operating environments for manufacturing plants, utility providers, and power stations, among others. With a growing attack surface mainly due to legacy systems, a data breach concern is the biggest challenge for many industrial IoT devices. Malicious actors can easily compromise such systems and gain access points to an enterprise network that can hurt the business and the reputation.
Theft of physical endpoint devices is a major risk as they store confidential information that may cause concern if that information falls into the wrong hands. These devices can store any information about business clients or partners, including their passwords or internal systems. Deployment of cyber-proof IoT devices can prevent such risks by storing data on cloud-based infrastructure or networks instead of storing it on the endpoint devices.
To dodge any device from getting hacked, the use of multi-factor authentication is highly recommended. In this authentication process, a computer user provides two or more verification factors to gain access to the system. As industrial devices often communicate through proprieties like Modbus, Ethernet/Ip, and PROFINET, they rarely employ authentication, authorization, or encryption methodologies.
Lack of Endpoint Visibility
Hackers have many ways to comprise a user device and put a company or an individual at risk. Those hackings highly vulnerable, particularly in remote working. A report shows that as of June 2020, over 30 percent of employee accounts have been compromised worldwide, with 10 percent of them failing to change their password afterward. In the industrial environment, the situation is very different and the numbers are huge.
When going ahead to make a big IIoT initiative, businesses need constant, uninterrupted connectivity. Unfortunately, achieving uninterrupted connectivity uptime and continuous availability is impossible. Thus, as enterprises require suitable vendors for meeting connectivity requirements to thwart downtime, a McKinsey report noted that organizations need to consider range, several locations, i.e., connectivity between multiple job sites/factories, and power consumption.
Apart from these challenges, the adoption of the IIoT will rely heavily on the improved availability and affordability of sensors, processors and other technologies that can facilitate capture of and access to real-time information. According to the report, the global IIoT market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.4% from US$77.3 billion in 2020 to US$110.6 billion by 2025.