The industrial sector has successfully adopted the latest advancements in technology and brought them to new heights, effectively creating the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). From smart robotics to cloud-based analytics and self-driving tractors, the IIoT is expanding and becoming an integral part of manufacturing, agriculture, and warehousing, just to name a few.
With the rapid growth of the IIoT, there comes an increasing danger: tampering from unauthorized users. Fortunately, there are steps facilities and manufacturers of IIoT devices can take to prevent hacking and other malicious behaviors. We summarize these methods in the following tips for protecting Industrial IoT devices.
Assume Every Device Needs Protection
The world of technology tends to get ahead of itself by creating new devices first, and securing them second. Whether it’s connected refrigerators in a facility’s lunchroom or smart robotics on the production floor, many of these devices are extremely beneficial in improving efficiency and making the workday more bearable. But, left without protection, these devices can be an easy inroad for hackers. And that could cost a facility a fortune—especially when the production floor is compromised. Thus, it is imperative for every facility with an IIoT device to ensure all safety features are activated and all configurations are complete before use. Fortunately, some IIoT devices are manufactured with an added level of protection, such as those made with low-pressure overmolding.
Know Your Network
If you don’t know which devices are connected to your network, you won’t know which devices don’t belong. Managers should keep a detailed and current inventory on all connected devices. Even if it’s a smart coffee pot in the breakroom.
Manage Employee Logins
Computers, cell phones, tablets, and smart watches are some of the first things we want to protect. In an industrial setting, safeguarding these devices is even more critical. Managers should require each employee to have a unique login and complex password to minimize the risk of a security breach. Enforcing verification before login can also be helpful.
IIoT devices are constantly transmitting critical data. To protect this data from hackers, it is essential to utilize end-to-end encryption. All IIoT devices should have capabilities for encrypted data transfer, and this capability should be utilized at all times.
Perform Regular Updates
Smart systems need updates, whether they’re tools, wearable devices, or package management systems. One of the best ways to protect IIoT devices from intrusion is to keep all firmware and software up to date. You can do this manually, or by enabling automatic updates.
Segment Your Networks
Further protect your data from interference by segmenting your networks into subsections. When safeguarded by firewalls, these subsections make it very difficult for hackers to maneuver. Additionally, IIoT devices should have separate firewalls from IT devices for further protection.
Monitor All Devices
While this tip for protecting Industrial IoT devices is a full-time job in itself, it is extremely worthwhile. Have someone (or multiple individuals) on staff to monitor logins and potential intrusions, report on critical data, and alert designated individuals should an intrusion occur. This is critical to safeguarding sensitive data and protecting your industrial business as a whole.