IIoT Top News — Security Remains Top of Mind

Cybersecurity has been top of mind for industry experts and consumers alike. The WannaCry ransomware is putting a legitimate scare into affected companies, although many are apparently preparing to call the hackers’ bluff. Yesterday, another cyberattack was announced as well, and it has the potential to be far more lucrative for the developers. The common denominator between the two? A leaked exploit developed by the NSA that leverages a Windows file-sharing protocol. These attacks are indicative of the long-term game of cat and mouse that the government and private enterprise faces for the foreseeable future of security and counterintelligence. Moving forward, the growing network of connected devices for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) faces similar security threats. This week, we found several stories demonstrating some of the solutions surrounding those potential security issues. The 9 Best Practices for IIoT from a Dell Security Expert   At a recent presentation for 2017 Dell EMC World Conference, Rohan Kotian, Dell EMC’s senior product manager for IoT security, spoke about his nine best practices for improved IIoT security. His number one strategy? Simply understanding the concerns. Many IoT devices come out of the box with few security controls in place, and understanding the risk is the most important step in addressing them. In this article from Tech Republic, you can read Mr. Kotian’s other nine best practices, including studying the attack trends, classifying risk, and leveraging fog computing.   IIoT Market Expected to Approach One Trillion Dollars by 2025   Grand View Research writes that the industrial Internet of Things will experience explosive growth over the next decade, going from a $109 billion industry in 2016 to an expected $933.62 billion by 2025. The massive market increase will be driven by a number of factors, one of which continued investment by government agencies and corporate leaders. As the report states, “The role of the Internet of Things (IoT) is increasingly becoming more prominent in enabling easy access to devices and machines. Government-sponsored initiatives and innovative efforts made by key companies, such as Huawei, GE, and Cisco, are anticipated to enhance the adoption of IIoT worldwide over the forecast period.”   IIoT Presents Unique Security Challenges Security is always a top priority in the Internet of Things, but IIoT applications present unique challenges. In this article from CSO Online, Phil Neray, CyberX’s vice president of industrial cybersecurity, writes that despite the growth of IoT applications in oil, gas, electric, and pharmaceuticals, “The fact is that all of these devices were designed a long time ago.” That means IIoT innovators have the challenge of integrating the newest technology into systems that may be decades old. This sort of retrofitting can make security a real challenge and there are few experts available who have both the knowledge of legacy systems and the latest IIoT solutions.   Sprint to Deploy LTW Cat 1 by End Of July   The Internet of Things relies heavily on low-power communication protocols to perform, so a recent announcement on FierceWireless.com that Sprint will be releasing LTE Cat 1 by the end of July is music to IoT developer’s ears. LTE Cat 1 is designed to support low-power applications on the Sprint network such as vehicle telematics and industrial IoT applications. “As one of the leading enablers and solution providers of the internet of things, Ericsson believes in its power to transform industries and capture new growth,” said Glenn Laxdal, head of Network Products for Ericsson North America. “Ericsson looks forward to partnering with Sprint to deploy Cat M1 next year and bring the transformative power of IoT to the Sprint Nationwide network.” The announcement also noted that Cat M would be following in mid-2018. TE Cat M1 and LTE Cat NB1 will support other applications requiring ultralow-throughput and power consumption.

IT/OT Convergence – The Impact from the Industrial Internet of Things

Without question, the number of connected sensors and devices on your IIoT network are going to increase, and also without question, the volume of data created by these devices on your IIoT network are going to increase as well. Both increases are intended to improve operational efficiency and streamline business processes. As a result, your Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) departments will likely need to adopt new strategies.  An increasingly popular strategy is IT/OT convergence. The Bandwidth Burden For many industries, SCADA and M2M networks have historically used serial communications for operational networks. This has changed and is changing for many. As networks transition from serial to Ethernet communications, data is now freed for routing to any business system. There is a new twist for SCADA, M2M and now IIoT networks that have limited bandwidth capabilities. With more business systems needing critical data to improve business process, utilization of bandwidth on networks with already-limited bandwidth is also increasing based on the traditional Poll/Response or Request/Response model. To reduce the bandwidth burden, systems are now transitioning from Poll/Response operation to a Publish/Subscribe model. There are several benefits to the Publish/Subscribe model. Sensors or devices in bandwidth limited networks can publish data when events change or select criteria are met. This reduces the demand for network bandwidth in two ways; 1) there is no prerequisite Poll message, and 2) devices publish when needed. Publish data is routed to a Broker or Publish/Subscribe server that operates on networks where network bandwidth is not a limitation so any number of subscribers can subscribe needed data without burdening the IIoT network. While the Publish/Subscribe model is a significant improvement to IIoT network efficiency, it is not a panacea for all operational information. Network monitoring systems, e.g. SNMP based systems, will still need to poll devices to gather operational, performance and prescriptive data; essential for proactively maintaining an efficient and operational IIoT network. Secure Devices to Support Convergence Newer sensors and devices are also being designed with security in mind because no legitimate manufacturer wants their IIoT device to be part of a DDoS attack, as we saw in 2016 with the Mirai DDoS attack. While IIoT device security services and features are rapidly improving, it is still incumbent on OT and IT organizations to: Train personnel on network security because the human element can still be the weakest part of any network, e.g. phishing emails, Deploy networks with Defense in Depth so there are numerous barriers to obstruct and deter entry with timely audit trails to identify entry, and Perform periodic Risk Assessments and implement action plans. SCADA, M2M and IIoT networks are operating more as IT networks thanks to the close work between OT and IT groups and their convergence. Want to learn more on this topic? Join my presentation at the ENTELEC conference on Thursday, April, 27, 2017 at 2 p.m.

2017 IIoT Prediction Series, Part 5: Major Public Utility Company Closes Doors

As 2017 kicks into full gear and a particularly interesting 2016 fades into the rearview mirror, we took a look around the IIoT landscape to see what this year might potentially have in store. Today, we wrap up the 2017 series – let us know what you think! On Tuesday, we started our predictions by looking at the potential development of Fog Computing at the Edge and its impact on cybersecurity. Wednesday, we predicted that the rise of IIoT applications will outpace consumer IoT apps. Thursday, we wrote about the challenge facing IIoT businesses as the workforce ages and new skills are needed for the ongoing IT/OT Convergence factor. On Friday, we predicted that the growth of smart cities infrastructure would force a connectivity standard for the IIoT industry. A Public Utility Closure in 2017 The maturation of interoperability standards and evolution of remote data collection technologies are forcing critical infrastructure and utility organizations to adapt at a new pace, in light of aging infrastructure and high percentages of the workforce that are nearing retirement. Existing management continues to struggle to match the IT and operations resources needed to build a comprehensive, integrated portfolio of applications that must work together to support the organization’s goals.  The prediction A public utility company will close its doors in 2017 due to challenges surrounding the adoption and implementation of modern IoT technologies.  There are numerous forces that support the prediction. Here’s our take on the big ones: Are you Taking Advantage of Fog Computing at the Edge? According to analysts, utility organizations are becoming more comfortable hosting critical infrastructure data and applications in the Cloud. But, in an effort to further optimize processes and shorten response times, utilities need to explore ways to host applications at the device/sensor level (i.e., the Edge otherwise known as Fog Computing). A decentralized network architecture that brings computing power closer to where data is generated and acted upon enables utilities to analyze, control and automate closer to the “Things” in the Industrial Internet of Things. In electric power, for example, where even milliseconds are vital, certain processes can move away from the Cloud and closer to the Edge. In an industry where cloud computing presents its own sets of challenges, can utilities go one step farther to look at new ways to optimize the “things” at the edge? IT-OT Convergence Presents Plenty of Challenges With identifiable business benefits and rapidly developing technologies that are closing the IT/OT divide, there are functional and operational differences between IT and OT groups that exist and complicate integration or convergence. IT and OT groups typically have fundamentally different charters, focus and personnel within their respective organizations. The challenges to IT/OT convergence are not the sensors, hardware, software or technology, but how each group perceives each project or opportunity and in turn, the solutions, which are skewed by their respective domains. In order for IT/OT convergence to be successful, communication is essential and in turn, there needs to be a clear understanding of each group’s roles – something we see utility organizations struggle with mightily, especially as an aging workforce butts heads with the next generation of digital-centric employees. However, the careful selection of technology for IIoT or industrial applications can help drive the convergence of IT/OT systems. For example, in electric utilities, the rollout of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and Distribution Automation (DA) networks is truly an OT application. The source of the data will fuel IT/OT convergence because it is the data analytics applications such as outage detection, fault management, prepay and others that bring value to the Smart Grid. If utilities can proactively take a systems level view of its infrastructure and integrate legacy systems with modern IT systems, the convergence of IT/OT groups may prove less strenuous. Cyber-threats to the Utility Utilities are at the forefront of the Industrial IoT with complex and comprehensive networks for advanced metering infrastructure, energy management, distribution management and substation automation. The estimated growth in IIoT applications for utilities and energy industries will increase to more than 1.5 billion devices by 2020. This explosive growth in networks, smart sensors and devices, and automated systems requires utilities to address, implement and monitor the security of their data networks because these are the networks providing command and control of critical infrastructure that is the Smart Gird. As technology has evolved, so has the intelligence and sophistication of cyber terrorists and their tactics. If utilities do not build a comprehensive security layer, especially across its internet-connected systems, there is little faith they’d be able to combat against such tactics as Denial of Service and Intrusion – the two top threats according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). If utilities don’t invest in hardened/proven networking and communications equipment, network access control programs, data encryption strategies, advanced monitoring technology and explore various other tactics for limiting exposure to harmful cybersecurity threats, they may be forced out of business anyways. Today, it is not a matter of “if” a cyber-attack is going to take place, but when. We hope you are ready. All in All We hope this prediction is one that doesn’t come to light in 2017, especially with all the direct investments being made in our critical infrastructure projects across the nation. However, a competitive organization is both agile and proactive in meeting market demands – something utilities need to learn from as business continues. That does it for our list of 2017 IIoT predictions – hope you enjoyed and please be sure to send your questions and comments below!

2017 IIoT Prediction Series, Part 3: IT/OT Convergence & the Next-Gen Workforce

As 2017 kicks into full gear and a particularly interesting 2016 fades into the rearview mirror, we took a look around the IIoT landscape to see what this year might potentially have in store. We will be unveiling five IIoT-related predictions throughout this week and into next, so stay tuned and let us know what you think! On Tuesday, we started our predictions by looking at the potential development of Fog Computing at the Edge and its impact on cybersecurity. Yesterday, we predicted that the rise of IIoT applications will outpace consumer IoT apps. FreeWave Predictions 2017 As our prediction series continues, we’d like to examine the industrial IoT (IIoT) workforce. Most of the industries that leverage IIoT face an uncertain future as they navigate their own digital transformation, coupled with the pressures of an aging workforce. The biggest challenge affecting IoT talent recruitment is the skills gap – there are not enough qualified applicants to take on new digital-centric, IT roles. From a business perspective, IT/OT convergence further complicates the issue. Enterprises are transforming the way they operate and it impacts everyone – especially the folks on the operations side dealing with legacy systems. Each of these factors has created a talent gap for many organizations. Our IoT Recruitment Prediction Recruitment of IoT talent will continue to be a challenge, incentivizing private enterprises to directly fund secondary education programs to nurture the next generation of a digital-centric workforce. The Business Problem As organizations and enterprises reorganize under the IT umbrella to address new technology opportunities, cybersecurity threats and work towards creating a connected enterprise – there is an underlying business problem. IT teams need better visibility and control of assets in the field while learning how to integrate these people and systems into modern IT practices. Meanwhile, on the OT side, there is an entire workforce that excels at managing and troubleshooting existing legacy systems, but lacks the potential skillsets to help with new technology demands and data analysis. IT/OT convergence is challenging for many businesses and it affects all aspects of the organization. Recruitment and Solution Recruitment challenges are impacting many industries. The Wall Street Journal reported the highest number of open positions in 15 years for the manufacturing industry because the talent pool lacks the skills for the job. As IoT connects and automates more processes, this gap will only continue to grow if nothing is done proactively to change it. There also is the question of whether organizations should bring in new talent or nurture existing talent. In an effort to overcome some of these challenges, we will see enterprises (not IoT vendors) to privately fund secondary education programs to help identify and create a more skilled workforce. In addition to standard HR recruitment and training practices, we expect to see more tactics such as IoT hackathons for the industrial sector, software development and digital/IoT centric accreditations, private contests, internal skill development workshops and IIoT user conferences. This wider investment in education will benefit both the existing, aging workforce and the incoming, next-generation of workers. Stay tuned for our next prediction as we explore the future of Smart Cities across the globe.

2017 Analyst Predictions – Industrial IoT

Predictions can be enlightening as we round out the end of the year, and industry analysts covering the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) have begun forecasting what to expect in 2017. In the ever changing digital business landscape, companies need to keep a pulse on the technology and regulatory environments to have direction on where to focus their efforts. Over the past few years, IIoT has taken on the shared title of industry 4.0, as new ways of connecting businesses and consumers impact systems infrastructures and technology integrations across many, if not all. business lines. In honor of reigning in 2017 as a strong year for the industrial internet, we have dedicated this week’s round up to highlight some of the top IIoT analyst predictions in the coming year. Gartner Predictions: Surviving the Storm Winds of Digital Disruption  By  Daryl C. Plummer, Martin Reynolds, Charles S. Golvin,  Allie Young, Patrick J. Sullivan, Alfonso Velosa, Benoit J. Lheureux, Andrew Frank, Gavin Tay, Manjunath Bhat, Peter Middleton, Joseph Unsworth, @rayval, @DavidFurl, Werner Goertz, @JCribbs_Gartner, Mark A. Beyer, @Alex42Linden, @noahelkin, @nheudecker, Tom Austin, @mc_angela, Fabio Chesini, Hung LeHong | Published on @Gartner_inc “Digital business innovation creates disruptive effects that have a wide-ranging impact on people and technology. However, secondary ripple effects will often prove to be more disruptive than the original disruption. Digital strategists must actively identify secondary effects when planning change.” Gartner Also Suggests That its Time to, Harness IoT Innovation to Generate Business Value By @chetster | Published on @Gartner_inc “The Internet of Things is moving beyond concepts and trials, and has begun to deliver business benefits across a range of industries. Studying innovation and how early use cases have fared will help CIOs and IT leaders capture business value.”   Forrester Predictions 2017: Cybersecurity Risks Intensify By @AmyDeMartine, Jeff Pollard, @infosec_jb, @acser, @heidishey, Christopher McClean, @jz415, @merrittmaxim, @sbalaouras, Trevor Lyness, Peggy Dostie | Published on @forrester “The connected world has arrived; we live and work in it. In this new reality, the next 12 months will see battles rage that will determine the amount of control individuals have over their own data and right to privacy as well as the offensive and defensive responsibilities of our governments. This report guides security and risk (S&R) pros through five predictions for 2017 that highlight escalating ramifications of poor security hygiene and how to mitigate potential damage.”   Ovum 2017 Trends: Radio Access Networks By @sonixag | Published on @OvumICT “This is part of Ovum’s 2017 Trends to Watch series. This report looks at what Ovum believes will be the major trends next year when it comes to the radio access network (RAN) market.The RAN market remains a challenging area and the need for spectrum remains a constant concern. RAN vendors are looking for new growth areas, and everybody wants 5G and they want it now. All of these factors are driving market trends.”   IDC 2017 Forecast: Manufacturing Worldwide By @kimknickle, Simon Ellis, @hashtonIDC, Christopher Holmes, @jeffhojlo, @ivanoortis, @VeronesiLor, Jing Bing Zhang | Published on @IDC “This IDC study provides manufacturers with the top 10 predictions and underlying drivers that we expect to impact manufacturers’ IT investments in 2017 and beyond. Technology leaders and their counterparts in the line-of-business (LOB) operations can use this document to guide their IT strategic planning efforts. According to Kimberly Knickle, research vice president, IT Priorities and Strategies, IDC Manufacturing Insights, “Technology continues to reshape the relationship between business and IT for innovation and digital transformation. Manufacturers want to work smarter using digital technologies in their products and processes and throughout the value chain. Our predictions create a framework for IT and line-of-business executives to plan and execute technology-related initiatives in the year ahead.”   As we conclude our highlights this week, we should realize these predictions are just the tip of the digital iceberg anticipated for 2017. The future could see more intelligent technologies communicating in industry 4.0 with machines processing more data. We could also expect to finally dig deeper into our IoT connected understanding. All we can do is hold tight as the next corner of digital transformation unfolds.

IoT Emerge Recap

IoT Emerge bounced on the scenes of Chicago this week. Yes, aside from the long awaited World Series win, an IoT conference was happening in this windy, action-packed town. The conference boasted two days of keynotes, technical sessions, workshops, live demonstrations, hands-on training and plenty of opportunities for networking with industry peers. The IoT Emerge mission is to continue to educate and promote cross-industry functions with a focus in Industrial IoT, smart cities and IoT engineering. Below, we’ve highlighted the best moments from the week. IoT Emerge: What have we learned? Back in 2011, research firm Gartner said the Worlds of IT and Operational Technology Are Converging. We believe IT/OT convergence is a critical concept: it promotes a single view of an enterprise’s information and employs process management tools to help ensure that every person, machine, sensor, switch, device, etc. in an organization has accurate information in the best format and at the right time. We learned optimizing the business process is vitally important. Decisions will be made in real time with higher levels of confidence because more information will be available regarding the event or condition. For example, load shed or curtailment events will be based on energy availability (IT sources) and demand throughout the distribution network (OT sources). Event management in an IT/OT converged networkwill execute as a closed loop process by targeting a feeder or substation, issuing curtailment signals to customers under that substation or feeder. This gauges real-time response and repeats as required to achieve the target reduction time. What other insights did we gain from IoT Emerge? Myths about IoT Engineering: The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is not ready to support predictive analytics With commentary from Eddie Garcia @freewavetech | Published on @ElectronicDesgn “When most people think about the IIoT, they think of machine-to-machine communications (mostly supported by RF technology) that have dominated the industrial sector for years. However, the convergence of IT and OT practices have seen intelligence moved closer to the access layer than ever before. New communication platforms have improved to the point where big data transport can come directly from the sensors at the edge (OT) all the way to the servers in the back office (IT). The industrial sector is closer than it’s ever been to supporting the future of data collection, transport, and aggregation, ultimately resulting in the huge data sets necessary to support predictive analytics at the IT/OT level.” IoT Emerge and Up-Close and Personal IoT Experience By @JKerns10 | Published on @MachineDesign “As IoT applications and case studies start piling up, some companies still wonder where the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) fits in their production lines. There’s lots of information on the internet about the IIoT, such as how IIoT worked in one application or how much a company could save by using a specific IIoT product. While examples and case studies offer ideas on how IIoT might fit your production line, having a chance to talk to experts directly about your applications and concerns can help ease concerns.” IoT Emerge: Looking ahead to the future By @IoTEmerge | Published on @cote_se IoT Emerge a chance to shed light on the possible digital future. Smart cities and Industrial IoT top the watch list. Along with the conference buzz, conference organizer Penton Publishing also launched the IoT Institute aimed at educating the growing IoT world. Color your IoT World By @IoTEmerge Coloring is not just for the kiddos. IoT Emerge worked with local Chicago artist Rawfa to create a wall sized coloring book. Conference goers got to take a break from the IoT information overload and color to their harts content. Industry thought leaders did an excellent job representing the broad range of emerging IoT applications this year, and as we move steadily toward the close of 2016, it’s clear that we can expect some exciting and innovative technology applications in the not-too-distant future.

Hacking: A Cybersecurity Top News Edition

Hacking became a scary reality last week as we all witnessed Twitter, Airbnb, Amazon, PayPal, CNN, Spotify and Reddit simultaneously get hit with a massive Denial of Service (DoS) attack. This attack also interrupted hundreds of other sites and internet connected devices from functioning properly.  For months, we’ve been hearing about the need to protect and secure our networks and devices. As the world steps further into the digital landscape, it’s clear that new advancements around cybersecurity tactics and strategies need to be addressed. Many are calling for standardization as a means to collectively thwart attacks and identify problem areas. Due to the proliferation of IoT technology and billions of connected devices, our critical infrastructure projects are those that may deserve the most attention in the short term. Read on for this week’s top cybersecurity news highlights that shine a light on the hacking aftermath and the inherent cybersecurity risks we should all be aware of in the IoT space. Exposed to Hacking Cybersecurity Experts are calling for Internet of Things Standards in Wake of Massive Attack By @ethanbaron | Published on @mercnews “In the assault Friday that blocked access to hundreds of websites, including Twitter, Airbnb, Amazon, PayPal, CNN, Spotify and Reddit, thousands of hijacked “internet of things” devices  bombarded a New Hampshire company called Dyn with traffic.” The Lessons From the East Coast CyberAttack By @josephinecwolff | Published on @Slate “This is an important lesson of online security and often an incredibly difficult one to impress upon users: Even the accounts and computers and machines that you don’t care about being.” Why Businesses Need to Secure Connected Devices to Win Consumer Trust By @jeffjohnroberts | Published on @FortuneMagazine “The issue now is whether the government should do more to regulate the Internet of things (IoT), or if we can instead trust companies and the market to solve the problem.”   This Attack Was Different–Cyber Threat Draws Utility Warnings By @BlakeSobczak | Published on @EENewsUpdates “Department of Homeland Security officials, who say they are investigating the attack on Dyn with the FBI, have warned that some smart-grid devices could be inadvertently swept up into attacks on other websites or key internet infrastructure.” Top Five Biggest Threats to IoT Security By Hannah Williams | Published on @cbronline “Hackers have recently been able to obtain access to a wide variety of connected devices, which has prompted new concerns over the security threats of the Internet of Things.”   Cybersecurity: The Biggest Threat to Automated Trucking By @AaronHuffCCJ | Published on @CCJnow “A single point of failure, or security breach, in a supply chain has far-reaching effects for all parties. Transportation companies must therefore think beyond their own IoT network perimeter, he advises, as the march towards automation continues.” As we conclude another round of top news highlights, we hope to have opened your eyes to modern cybersecurity considerations. As technology continues to evolve, we must continue to learn how to better protect our IoT interests upon exposure to hacking.

Industrial Communications and Security Go Way Back

Industrial communications and security have a long standing history. In 2016, industrial network operators can collect more data from geographically dispersed field assets than ever before. As we head towards fully connected systems through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), communication technology manufacturers continue innovating and creating enhanced solutions that will meet the Big Data demands of today and the future.  Data has become one of the most valuable assets an organization can own.  It can help operators improve operational decisions, save manpower and improve employee safety by keeping them out of dangerous environments. Industrial Communications  Industrial communications networks have more access points than ever before and we will continue to see more IIoT devices in service as connectivity improves in challenging environments. The IP-based technology incorporated into Industrial IoT communiations make it easier to deploy and talk to sensors, but it also makes it easier for intruders to see and snoop on valuable data streams. Anytime we talk about the collection and transfer of large amounts of critical data, security becomes an important part of the conversation.  If you’re a manufacturer, you are probably nodding your head in agreement or maybe even thinking that is an obvious statement.  However, based on the major cyber-attacks that have occurred in industrial networks over the past decade it is clear that a security focus from design to deployment isn’t always the case. Take a look at this infographic, “A History of IIoT Cyber Attacks and the Future of Security,” to see just how many huge scale cyber-attacks have impacted a variety of industries. While the infographic offers insight into major IIoT security breaches we’ve seen in the past decade or so, it does not provide the entire picture of industrial communication technology history and security practices. It does not highlight the fact that industrial operations networks have been using communication devices for decades and many industrial systems have been “online” since well before 2007. In fact, wireless machine-to-machine (M2M) communication solutions have owned the command and control of field assets for decades. Looking Closer at Solutions Top-tier industrial communication solution manufacturers have been leveraging security to prevent cyber-attacks and vulnerabilities on data long before the first major breach identified in the infographic. For years, these manufacturers have used a variety of techniques beyond physically securing the devices, including frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) based devices with security standards like TLS/SSL and basic AES-128 data encryption. Some communication technology providers created solutions that are trusted by the US military for secure mission critical data transmission and have been used for more than 20 years. If one thing is clear in the efforts to protect data over time, it is that a critical infrastructure project is only as reliable and secure as the technology serving it. Security will ultimately be the limiting factor on how much IIoT technology is deployed.  A modern operator striving for an IIoT network must look at SCADA security, the convergence of Operations Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT), and make a thorough assessment of what will allow them to achieve a secure data communications network and where they want to be in this triangle.  As the industry has evolved, so have the security practices. But what hasn’t changed is that an operator looking to build an IIoT network must carefully select their technology and look for the solutions that are focused on security.

Securing Assets with Outdoor Wi-Fi

The video surveillance market is anticipated to grow to $42B by 2019. Many industries today are using video monitoring as part of their physical security efforts to protect assets.  As the Internet of Things (IoT) is increasingly adopted by more industries, careful consideration must be made when leveraging Sensor-to-Server (S2S) solutions for video-based security applications.  From a technology perspective, IoT is beneficial for video security because it enables more data collection to drive intelligent business and security decisions that will better protect assets. However, with more sensors and devices connected to an IT network comes increased exposure for cyberattacks. It was inevitable that IoT would cross over into the physical security space, but the idea of security devices connected into an IoT network is concerning to many security professionals. In 2015, HP reported that up to 70 percent of IoT devices are vulnerable to cyberattacks. Any intelligent communication that is leveraged in an IoT environment must be designed with security in mind and have the ability to protect the network against cyber-attacks. Without ample security in the environment, companies risk severe consequences such as compromised data or denial of service. Outdoor Assets Protected Some outdoor shorthaul, Wi-Fi-based S2S networks are now designed to securely monitor and transmit voice, video, data and sensor (VVDS) information for asset monitoring and control. Additionally, any industry looking for an outdoor network robust enough to provide Wi-Fi connectivity may also benefit from these outdoor Wi-Fi solutions. From emergency communications to municipalities, industrial networks to golf courses or campgrounds, and more, there are numerous use cases where Wi-Fi is beneficial for connectivity and also for high-speed shorthaul communications needed to enable VVDS data. In IoT environments there are sensors on every single asset, constantly pulling data, so they need to make sure that security features are part of the technology’s design. For the operator seeking outdoor Wi-Fi to connect physical security devices and enable video monitoring, it is important to be familiar with the technology they are selecting. The Wi-Fi networks best suited for outdoor environments will have a rugged design with proven reliability in extreme environmental conditions. When the right security measures are in place, these solutions can ensure that data is protected through a variety of means including encryption, authentication, virus and intrusion protection, and by being physically tamperproof. Although robust, outdoor Wi-Fi can provide the connectivity needed for VVDS applications, but it needs to be able to withstand and prevent cyber security attacks. When the right technology is selected and enabled, asset protection can be enhanced through video. How are you protecting your assets?

(Industrialized) IoT App Development

Has IoT app development begun to take the globe by storm? A few weeks ago we discussed the growing need for more third-party app creation for the Industrial IoT industry. This week, we dive deeper and focus on those early adopters of industrialized IoT app development and what industries these “bleeding edgers” are serving. We all know by now the number of connected things is projected to grow massivelyover the coming years. Injecting new software applications into the industrial IoT world creates even more monitoring, control and usage of devices and data at the edge. Some would call this influx of software with industrialized hardware a modern marriage. The manufacturing sector, for example, seems to have found a use for implementing next-generation hardware to improve and automate operations, especially along the assembly line. At the same time, cloud-based software solutions are being leveraged to improve data analytics, thus improving actionable intelligence in real-time. What’s more is this new environment is incentivizing industrial manufacturers to cultivate new business models as they are finding that solutions they have developed in-house are as valuable as the hardware they manufacture. By tracking the performance of manufactured products in the field, manufacturers gain faster feedback loops and insights from customers. For example, instead of waiting months or even years for performance feedback, the integration of cloud-based software and modern hardware provides manufacturers this information in what is approaching real-time. This allows them to respond quickly with fixes, advice or, when needed, replacement equipment. As we enter into uncharted territory for many in this new interoperable, connected tech world, we have to also consider the cybersecurity measures in place and how it will combat any vulnerabilities as the surge of new, industrialized software applications enter our critical infrastructures. Security must be manufactured into the product from the very beginning – this includes tamper-proof hardware, authentication protocols, data encryption and more. What’s Next? Big companies like AT&T and Microsoft are joining forces for the good of the developer. We all can agree software is taking hold of certain business operations, so it is only natural companies would seek an easy solution for enterprise to bring about this change. The industrial side may appear to move slower when it comes to implementation, but that is only because of the various moving parts – machine-to-machine (M2M) devices, sensors and wireless technologies – that must sync with precision without missing a beat. Software is the enabler of this interoperability. So what is the next step in this industrialized development? Jeff Dorsch with Semi Engineering believes that, “Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications proliferate in critical infrastructure, such as the power grid and water supply, the importance of the underlying software and the availability of an open-source platform for app development is coming to the forefront.” This fully-functioning data driven ecosystem will have to decide if open or closed systems are the best for their needs. Google and Apple, for example, have provided internet enabled ecosystems of devices. The problem is that they are closed ecosystems that limit which devices and which data can speak to each other. If industrial players want to take advantage and accelerate their own digital transformations, market opportunities and revenue, then they must take a closer look at open and secure technologies and start innovating for IIoT today. So as we all start to dip our toes in the industrialized software development pond, be sure to consider how your desired outcome matches the factors of delivering business value – customer responsiveness, security, revenue generation and operational efficiency. All are important in and of themselves, but different business models drive different decision-making. Embracing the IIoT app development opportunity early on might prove to be the smartest investment from a competitive advantage standpoint – being able to answer the “why” question is what will eventually separate the high-performers from the rest.

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