A 2016 BDO Manufacturing RiskFactor Report shows that more than 9 in 10 manufacturers have concerns over cyber security. There is a good reason for that concern considering IBM tells us manufacturing was the second most targeted industry for cyber attacks in 2015.
To prevent an attack from wreaking havoc, we put up firewalls, install virus protection on computers, and limit the privileges users have when accessing certain systems. However, we still have a vulnerable entry point, and that vulnerability is in the sensors at the heart of IIoT.
Sensors access the internet to transfer data, and engineers use the internet to update the software on their sensors. The ability to connect is a tremendous benefit, but that ability is where the risk lies. Every time that connection occurs, there is the potential for a malicious attack.
While we have software to protect our computers, such protection is, in some cases not possible and in others not practical. Sensors have very simple processors and very little memory as they are designed to execute one task and nothing else. If you were to put software protection on the sensor, it could not do its job as all its effort would be focused on protecting itself.
Alenka Zajic, an assistant professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology said the challenge for manufacturers is, “How do I keep hardware simple enough, so it’s not too costly but also make it secure?”