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How IIoT Security Works: Is Your Cybersecurity Up to Snuff?

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) security has become a central concern in Industry 4.0’s interconnected world, and for good reason. Massive companies like Target have been sued over data breaches. You may have even received an invitation to participate in a class action lawsuit against a company for similar reasons.

But that’s not the only concern when it comes to IIoT security in manufacturing. From intellectual property theft to malware that causes unplanned downtime, any smart factory is at risk.

In this article, we’ll explain what IIoT security is and the actions your team can take to mitigate risks.


What Is Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Security?

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) security is the action of taking preventative measures against cyberattacks, data breaches, intellectual property theft, malware, and other cyber threats.

IIoT security measures can be both physical and digital. For example, you should educate your staff on proper office security protocols, like not leaving their desks with their computers unlocked. Or, you may need to work with your IT department to implement stronger encryption of data. Both situations fall under “cybersecurity”.

IIoT security is not solely the responsibility of your IT department. Breaches can happen in the office or online. While IT is responsible for monitoring and auditing traffic, logs, and security events for signs of unauthorized access, IIoT security is the responsibility of all personnel.


Why Is IIoT Security Important?

IIoT security is important because it safeguards crucial information, like sensitive data, intellectual property, manufacturing infrastructure, operability of machines, and operational continuity.

Cybersecurity in manufacturing isn’t only for high-regulation industries like medical devices and life sciences. It’s also vital for protecting assets in plastics and furniture or preventing data breaches for aerospace and defense. And malware attacks can cause unplanned downtime for any manufacturer. When it comes to sensitive data, a breach can cost a company millions of dollars if sued.

In other words, rigorous IIoT security can save your company time, money, headaches, and full-on catastrophes.


How Does IIoT Security Work?

IIoT security works through a combination of technologies, policies, and practices to prevent, detect, and respond to cyber threats. This includes using encryption, access control mechanisms, network segmentation, authentication protocols, intrusion detection systems, and regular security audits.

The technologies involved in maintaining a safe and secure digital ecosystem range from the smart sensors and IoT devices equipped on your machinery to data hosted in the cloud to personal devices your employees bring to work. Essentially, any device that connects to the internet is a risk that your team needs to take preventative action against.


Components of IIoT Cybersecurity

The following components of IIoT cybersecurity are important steps you should collaborate with your IIoT consultant, IT department, and other stakeholders and leadership members to enact.

First, consider authentication and access control. It’s vital that you set rules regarding who is able to access what equipment and data. By establishing user roles, you can ensure that only need-to-know employees can log on to certain machines or portals. In the event of a data breach, you’ll have a much more targeted pool of employees to interview.

Next is data encryption. Data encryption is the process of making data more difficult for bad actors to intercept by turning it into code that only the receiving device can decipher. Your IT department should be encrypting all data sent and received by devices in your smart factory. 

Network segmentation is also a necessary part of IIoT security. By segmenting your network, you are locking away crucial information. In the event of a data breach, bad actors won’t get access to all information that the company stores.

Make sure your IT department is vigilant when it comes to intrusion detection and prevention. They need to have systems in place to monitor and audit traffic and logs. This will help them stay on the lookout for abnormalities.

Another measure your team can take is secure device provisioning and management. In other words, your team should be following best practices and protocols when it comes to making sure connected devices, like sensors, actuators, human-machine interfaces (HMIs) programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and more, are securely deployed, configured, monitored, and maintained.

Secure deployment involves verifying device authenticity, ensuring firmware integrity, and establishing initial communications with the network during IIoT implementation. Then, devices have to authenticate themselves to the network before gaining access to its resources. Consider using cryptographic keys and digital certificates.

Your IIoT consultant will help ensure your software is always patched and up-to-date. When there is a fault in a device, your IIoT vendor will create security patches that close any open doors. Installing these patches needs to happen quickly because they are critical for addressing known vulnerabilities. 

Finally, invest in cybersecurity training for all employees. Most data breaches happen due to human error. Some employees may fall for phishing scams, or they might simply leave their equipment unlocked. Your data is valuable. It only takes one bad actor to profit from it.


Benefits of IIoT Security

Having a strong IIoT security strategy gives your company innumerable benefits. Think of IIoT like insurance. The more robust it is, the less you pay in the long run. When cyber attacks happen, your team can detect and resolve them quickly.

Here are some specific benefits of IIoT security:

  • Improves regulatory compliance
  • Protects sensitive data and IP
  • Decreases financial and reputational risks
  • Prevents operational disruptions and downtime
  • Increases trust among shareholders and stakeholders


Who Needs IIoT Cybersecurity?

Any company or industry that uses IIoT devices, systems, or networks needs IIoT cybersecurity. Here are a few examples.


Medical Devices and Life Sciences

Medical devices and life sciences manufacturers rely heavily on IoT and IIoT technologies. IIoT helps improve patient care by streamlining operations, improving the research and development process. These industries face the strictest regulatory compliance laws, like FDA regulations, Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards, and more.

IIoT security protects patient safety and sensitive data. It also ensures continued operations, which is so important to the health and safety of the market they serve. This could look like ensuring interoperability and integration of other healthcare systems, like electronic health records (EHRs) and clinical decision support systems.


Aerospace and Defense

Industries like aerospace and defense require secrecy to maintain national security. Whether the company is a government contractor or it operates in the private sector, it needs to protect its intellectual property. IIoT cybersecurity can protect critical infrastructure for these industries complex interconnected systems and networks.


General Manufacturing

The fact is that no manufacturing company can remain profitable if cyber threats are allowed to take hold. Cyber threats can lose your business money by playing on your infrastructure and causing unplanned downtime. They can cause your business to be sued if bad actors get a hold of and sell sensitive customer information. They can steal your IP and rebrand it as their own. Where there are money-making ideas, people are trying to take a shortcut to success. Don’t let them profit off of your hard work.

Is Your IIoT Network Secure?

The importance of IIoT security cannot be overstated in today’s digital landscape. As manufacturers increasingly rely on interconnected devices, systems, and networks to drive efficiency and stay competitive, the need to take cybersecurity seriously is imperative. If you’re not sure where to begin in securing your smart factory, contact us at ProphecyIoT today for a full security audit.

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