The Internet of Things (IoT) connects machines, allowing remote control and data collection used to improve automation, real-time knowledge, efficiency, and convenience. The Industrial Internet of things (IIoT) is a class of the IoT where manufacturing and other critical infrastructure are interconnected for operational efficiency and to enable rapid response in case of problems. What used to be simple machines are now smart machines. However, remote access increases the number of security risks experienced by industrial facilities.

IoT security and privacy is a hot-button issue due to the fact hackers can find vulnerabilities in connected devices and industrial equipment that can give them access to sensitive data and control. Hackers have everything to gain by identifying these vulnerabilities, which is why IoT security and privacy are extremely important.

Consequences for Insufficient Cybersecurity

Because the IIoT gives manufacturers and those managing critical infrastructure across many industries the ability to do things that increase productivity, security and privacy tend to be lower priorities than cost and efficiency in the minds of many executives and facility managers. They often prioritize better quality control, improved sustainable practices, and a positive impact on their bottom line.

Unfortunately, there are some frightening consequences for insufficient IoT security. For example, a hacker can access gain control of infrastructure and completely shut down operations, such as during the cyberattack on a Ukrainian power plant in December 2015. There have been reports of hacking into a large number of other IoT connected devices, including cars, cameras, industrial machinery, even rugged linux tablet and rugged Android tablet. In addition to temporary control, permanent damage induced from setting machines to parameters which cause them to operate out of specification or the theft of private data are possible. The loss of money, equipment, and even life are potential outcomes of insufficient cybersecurity.

Securing the IoT World

IoT security and privacy have increased attention to IoT device security during product design and installation. This includes enforcing strong security policies (such as WPA-2 Wi-Fi over WEP), requiring stronger security keys, mandating changes from default passwords, and more. Improved device testing identifies security backdoors and results in closing these vulnerabilities.

IoT and IIoT product design companies, such as InHand, improve IoT security via working with customers on understanding their use cases for IoT access, defining methods of enabling but also limiting remote access, and then modifying the operating system software and configuration accordingly. Unused networking functions can be removed to prevent unintended backdoors. Physical security, such as tamper detection, can also be incorporated as an added security measure. With IoT security being considered throughout the product design cycle as a priority requirement, the resulting product can provide remote access for intended uses while minimizing the opportunities for mischief by hackers.