Edge Computing for IIoT requires a relook at Enterprise Security

Edge Computing for IIoT: Companies are racing to adopt the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies. Many are evaluating edge computing for efficiencies, where data from IoT devices is processed on-premise, rather than in the cloud. The increased processing speed of edge computing allows businesses to analyze data and make critical decisions in almost real-time, thereby drastically drive to improve operational efficiencies.

However, introducing these new devices and endpoints also introduces new security risks and considerations. Adding IoT devices previously located within the network to remote locations means businesses must protect new devices and endpoints from a variety of external security threats.

Every company has to explore unique technical infrastructure and security needs of the Edge computing infrastructure.

Here are the set of best practices that are emerging to improve IIoT network security with edge computing.

Identity definite Responsibility matrix for Edge Security

Enterprise digital organizations are split into two independent teams – Informational Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT). One of the challenging aspects of modern cybersecurity is the increasingly vague distinction between Informational Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT). Traditionally, all production equipment was the responsibility of OT, while network equipment was under the IT arena. Both organizations can manage the IIoT and edge computing devices now, as they reside at the edge but connect to centralized networks. IT-OT convergence is the best practice for an IIoT strategy. It is also critical for the security of the organization.

Companies must ensure alignment and collaboration between IT and OT teams on their divided responsibilities for securing the network. When possible, OT and IT teams should also understand each other’s roles and responsibilities so that they are capable of addressing any potential catastrophic events.

Perform a detailed Security Audit

Companies must first understand their vulnerabilities, to protect their operations from ransomware, endpoint manipulation, and other malicious security threats. The first critical step in improving network security is thoroughly mapping the IT infrastructure across the organization to identify all potential risks.

Corporate security teams should create an inventory of all assets, identify points of weakness, and build recovery plans for securing the network in the event of a security breach. Contracting an external security auditor will help organizations view their assets with an external perspective. Security audits should always involve both OT and IT teams. Similarly, effective recovery plans must establish the different roles of IT and OT in protecting company assets.

Select Security-Based Solutions

By design, IIoT and edge computing hardware face unique security challenges than traditional technologies. Security has not been a priority for purchasing or operational teams, as operational environments seldom pose a potential threat to company-wide networks.

Usually, production teams are focused on minimizing downtime and maximizing operational value. Hence they have a reliable set of priorities for hardware: simplicity, affordability, and autonomy, as required. However, the growth of IIoT devices and other increasingly smart operational equipment that is communicating with the network, make edge computing a new frontier in the cybersecurity war.

Many hardware manufacturers are finding unique ways to prioritize security without sacrificing operational simplicity. ‘Self-protecting’ edge computing and IIoT devices can autonomously identify data anomalies that might signal a cyber-attack or component malfunction. These devices reflect the increasing importance of edge security without introducing too much complexity for production teams. With self-protecting hardware, operational teams can ensure safety at the edge without sacrificing their ability to keep critical equipment up and running. Hence security is an important use case of Edge Machine Learning and Edge Artificial Intelligence.

Summary:


Edge Computing for IIoT: As companies explore the value of edge computing and increase the intelligence and efficiency of their industrial operations, they must remain aware of the potential security vulnerabilities. Developing a comprehensive cybersecurity plan requires full consideration of a company’s computing infrastructure, a clear awareness of security responsibilities, and invest in self-protecting hardware. Companies must first ensure they are adequately protected to maximize the value of IIoT and edge computing projects.

Footnotes:

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