MHI Solutions

Technology

Cyber Security and the Industrial Internet of Things

Six experts provide answers to five key questions about IIoT and cyber security.
By Carol Miller

If you’re in manufacturing, supply chain, material handling or logistics, you’ve probably heard the terms “Internet of Things (IoT),” “Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)” and “Industry 4.0” bandied about with increasing frequency over the last 24 to 36 months.

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, they aren’t the same.

  • The IoT refers to everyday objects with embedded computing devices that utilize the Internet to connect with other systems, enabling them to send and receive data in real-time.
  • The IIoT is the application of IoT technologies in an industrial setting.
  • Industry 4.0 is the trend toward greater interconnectivity and data exchange between automated equipment to support intelligent, autonomous decision-making. Its evolution is supported by IoT/IIoT technologies (as well as by cyber-physical systems and cloud computing).

One place you’ve likely heard these terms is in the fourth MHI Annual Industry Report, “Next-Generation Supply Chains: Digital, On-Demand and Always-On,” a survey conducted by Deloitte Consulting LLP. The report is available as a free download at MHI.org.

The report shares the findings of a survey regarding the adoption rates of, and barriers to, a wide range of new and emerging technologies, including the IIoT. Of the 1,100 top-level manufacturing, logistics and supply chain industry leaders queried, 60 percent say IIoT will be a source of competitive advantage or disruption in their industry in the next 10 years. Interestingly, 55 percent also say that the biggest barrier to IIoT adoption is cyber security.

Clearly, the two go hand-in-hand. With the rash of mainstream media reports covering both inadvertent and malicious cyber security breaches that have tarnished the reputations and impeded the productivity of numerous large corporations over the last few years, it’s no wonder that C-suite executives and senior managers are putting equal emphasis on IIoT and cyber security strategies. Even Capitol Hill is taking action, with U.S. Senators unveiling a bipartisan bill in August 2017 to mandate baseline cyber security requirements for Internet-connected devices purchased by the Federal government.

To address some of the concerns, MHI Solutions gathered six experts in the field for a Q&A session on the topic. Their comments offer guidance to those seeking to implement IIoT to gain competitive advantage in today’s on-demand economy and companion cyber security strategies to simultaneously protect their operations from hackers and cyber attacks.

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Emerging technologies such as IIoT, robotics and artificial intelligence provide exciting opportunities for supply chains. They also mean an exponential growth in the amount of data these supply chains generate. When properly utilized, this data can provide crucial information to improve efficiency, reduce costs, enhance transparency and customer service. But it comes with risk. The more digitized a supply chain becomes, the more it is at risk of cyberattack. Hackers are constantly finding new ways create data breaches they can exploit. The reality that most supply chains require third-party suppliers down the chain only heightens this threat. No matter the scale of your supply chain, it is essential to have solid cybersecurity processes in place to manage and mitigate the growing risk of cyberattack. That’s what this issue of MHI Solutions is all about, from cybersecurity threats in an IIoT world to dark data to the human factor in cybersecurity to blockchain as a potential solution.

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