Managing Security Risks of the Internet of Things in Manufacturing

 In Network

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) continues to expand its reach within the manufacturing enterprise. IIoT systems have taken on significant roles in maintenance, inventory management, and quality control. The IIoT platforms provide support for process optimization and visualization.

Internet of Things devices are noted for their security vulnerabilities in the consumer world, and they have the same vulnerabilities in the manufacturing world. Because of the scale of manufacturing plants and the materials involved, as well as the amount of data available, the dangers the IIoT presents to manufacturers are significant.

Information Security Risks of IIoT in Manufacturing

The security vulnerabilities come in several ways.

Although IIoT devices need to exchange data with backend systems over the internet, these communications are often not secure or use only weak encryption. Because these devices may have limited computing capabilities, stronger levels of security are often not possible.

In addition, the devices’ network services may be insecure, providing open ports that serve as doorways to greater network access. The backend systems behind IIOT devices often are insecure, with poor password, session, and credential management controls. Frontends provided to mobile users may have similar weaknesses. As a result of these weaknesses, IIoT devices are subject to hijacking, DDoS, and man-in-the-middle attacks.

IIoT devices are also vulnerable because of poor security practices in general. Many manufacturing systems use outdated operating systems and rely on the public network. Retrofitting legacy equipment with IIoT devices increases their security risks.

Reducing IIoT Security Risks in Manufacturing

Although the IIoT is distinctive, the methods of securing it are almost completely traditional. These include basic security measures such as updating software and applying patches, enforcing strong password rules, and utilizing multifactor authentication.

Although not limited to IIoT, firmware upgrades can be particularly important to ensuring security when it comes to these devices.

Network microsegmentation provides another mechanism for increasing security. It allows finer control of the network and limits the ability of an intruder to access other systems if a breach occurs. The level of “micro” in the microsegmentation a business implements doesn’t have to be extremely fine-grained to be effective. Just separating IoT devices from conventional IT systems provides additional protection.

All security measures require understanding where the vulnerabilities lie. When it comes to IIoT, these vulnerabilities extend beyond traditional information security risks to data to include real-world impacts such as defective products and damage to equipment or even employee safety. It’s vital manufacturers keep track of where every IIoT device is located in order to manage these risks.

Prescient Solutions offers complete IT services for manufacturers in the Chicago and Schaumburg areas. Contact us to learn how to improve your business through better IT from Prescient Solutions.

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