The Industrial IoT market, which is expected to grow to more than $151 billion by 2020, will soon overshadow all other segments of the Internet of Things ecosystem. The integration of smart systems into industrial sector utilizes real-time data and analytics to improve productivity, efficiency, and overall costs. Unfortunately, the increasing dependence on data in this new IoT market reveals alarming national and commercial security concerns that threaten far more than just data and privacy.
Top use cases for the Industrial IoT:
- Predictive maintenance: The integration of sensors into equipment to track performance for maximum efficiency and predict the need for maintenance to minimize downtimes.
- Smart building management: The deployment of smart building management systems utilizes real-time data to optimize energy, water, or gas consumption as well as reduce operational costs.
- Asset tracking and management: With the use of sensors and software, businesses can monitor assets in the supply chain in order to minimize inventory and optimize operational efficiency.
- Fleet management: Smart fleet management systems utilize vehicle tracking systems for companies that rely on transportation to optimize vehicle and staff efficiency as well as reduce costs.
The mere scale at which the industrial sector operates, creates serious security vulnerabilities. Unless the valuable data that companies are beginning to rely on is protected, a data breach in the Industrial IoT could have a physical impact and “threaten human safety, environmental damage, and massive system disruption,” according to Tom Le of GE Digital WurldTech. For example, a hacked fleet of vehicles or manufacturing equipment could threaten the safety of drivers or unauthorized access to a gas company through a breached building management system could damage the facility and environment with harmful gasses.
A group called the Industrial Internet Consortium (ICC) is already increasing awareness around the IoT security discussion. The Industrial Internet Consortium, formed in 2014 by AT&T, Cisco Systems, General Electric, IBM, and Intel to accelerate adoption of the Industrial IoT, now has more than 200 members working to address these security challenges. They recently released the Industrial Internet Security Framework (IISF) that lays out best practices to assess risks to protect organizations. They are making steps in the right direction by promoting collaboration between companies to improve data security for the Industrial IoT, but the only realistic way to secure the plethora of valuable IoT data is through encryption. If the data being hijacked is protected with the highest level of encryption, it can prevent malicious use by cybercriminals.
The industrial IoT market is currently focused on reducing operational risks and improving business efficiency, but it is important for companies to stay focused on the ever-growing cyberthreats as the IoT expands into new markets. The harm that comes with a lack of data security would easily outweigh the benefits of an industrial internet and even result in physical threat and damage.