Written by Jordan Deville, Sr. ICS Consultant | OT Consultant
As the world continues to embrace digital transformation, industrial settings such as chemical plants and manufacturing facilities are not exempt from this transition. The emergence of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology has paved the way for enhanced automation, improved operational efficiency, and increased productivity in these environments. However, it is essential to address the critical aspect of security in IIoT implementations to ensure the protection of valuable assets and data.
In this blog post, we will explore the significance of security in IIoT and highlight the measures necessary to safeguard your industrial operations.
At the sensor level, physical security plays a crucial role in IIoT systems. Ensuring the separation of IIoT sensors from control system sensors is imperative to prevent unauthorized access or data manipulation. By implementing physical separation, damage to the overall integrity and reliability of the system, both control and IIoT, is minimized.
Layered network security is vital in protecting IIoT systems. While general IT network security is typically layered on top of IIoT, it is essential to consider that IT network security systems are primarily designed for conventional data flow and authentication. In contrast, IIoT requires specific configurations that focus on control system data flow standards. IT network security systems may be updated every two to three years, while IIoT systems often span 15 to 20 years between updates. As such, there are many complexities that must be accounted for anytime the IT system needs an update. Therefore, it is crucial to bridge the gap between the two and ensure the security of both systems.
Cloud / Local Hybrid Infrastructure
Many IIoT systems require both cloud and on-premise server infrastructure to process and integrate data effectively. However, this integration introduces the challenge of establishing secure network tunneling between the different types of infrastructure. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) or authentication using Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificates are both valid options. However, the latter requires more advanced configuration and regular IT maintenance. By implementing these measures, you can secure the data flow between cloud and on-premise servers in your IIoT system.
The security design of a standalone IIoT system primarily involves focusing on user and system access control to prevent unauthorized entry. Additionally, the tag-level security provided and supported by most IIoT and Control System manufacturers can offer an added layer of protection. Integration with third-party systems, especially for data analysis, must be carefully controlled to ensure critical data remains adequately protected and does not fall into the wrong hands.
Control System Adjacent System Architecture
Well-designed architecture connecting an IIoT system with the primary control system is crucial to maintaining data security. It is essential to ensure that data is only produced by the control system and consumed by the IIoT system to prevent accidental data leakage or unauthorized data control. Likewise, data should not be allowed into the control system from the IIoT system. By implementing robust security measures, you can have full control over the data flow between these interconnected systems without compromising their integrity.
Why Choose RED Group for Your Secure IIoT System
RED Group, certified as an IIoT expert by Cirrus Link, has successfully deployed IIoT solutions for multiple customers. Not only do we possess extensive expertise in the IIoT field, but we are also specialists in control systems and OT network systems for industrial cybersecurity. Our unique qualification allows us to design and implement highly secure IIoT systems tailored to your specific needs.
Security is an indispensable aspect of any IIoT system, ensuring the protection of valuable assets and data in industrial settings. By prioritizing physical security, layered network security, secure cloud/on-premise hybrid infrastructure, data security, and control system adjacent system architecture, you can safeguard your operations from potential threats. As an IIoT-certified firm with expertise in control systems and OT network systems, RED Group stands ready to assist you in designing and implementing secure IIoT solutions. Reach out to us today and let us help you navigate the path to a secure IIoT future.
Jordan Deville, Sr. ICS Consultant and OT Consultant of RED Group’s Houston office, has nearly a decade of experience in Industrial Control systems design and implementation. He has spent the past several years building and refining control system network systems especially focusing on cybersecurity and network safety.