How the IIoT can subdue cyber security challenges met by software adoption

According to Gartner’s 2019 Industrial IoT Platforms Magic Quadrant report, by 2023 30% of industrial enterprises will have full, on-premises deployments of IIoT platforms. IIoT platforms and software adoption is rapidly increasing – up 15% in 2019 – and this will undoubtedly continue to grow as we progress through the new decade.

From enhancing operational performance to improved business processes, adopting new technology and software capabilities is vital for business success in today’s industrial sector. However, when it comes to adopting software and technology, integrating new systems with existing legacy systems in the industry can be a challenge.

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Much of the existing technology in the industry was designed in the analog age, long before digital technology took the world by storm. The technology stacks were not designed to be put on the web, and as a result, a lot of this software has vulnerabilities that make it susceptible to cyber security attacks.

As more and more of these systems are moved to online platforms, the threat will continue to increase. So, how can the industrial sector overcome cyber security challenges when adopting software?

Don’t underestimate the risk

If a cyber security attack occurs, it can be devastating for a business. To underestimate the risk and impact that a breach can have is a catastrophic mistake. Alongside exposure to intellectual property, serious environmental impact and lost production, the organisation will also be liable for serious fines and penalties. Cyber security risks should be taken seriously and prioritised during the software adoption process.

Don’t just think of your physical assets

It’s easy to forget about securing assets that aren’t right in front of our eyes, like data stored in the cloud. Understanding how data is transported, where it is stored, and how it is managed and accessed is vital. Once that has been outlined, a security assessment needs to be completed to determine where risks lie. Whether it’s running vulnerability assessments or conducting regular intrusion testing, all potential weak links need to be addressed.

Raise awareness internally

Cyber security attacks don’t always enter through the technology or software itself; sometimes, they target employees. As outlined in a recent Forbes article, cyber criminals may ‘exploit vulnerabilities in human behaviour that might turn your employees into unwitting co-conspirators in an attack’. Because of this, it’s important to invest in staff training, particularly focusing on phishing, malware attacks, and what to keep an eye out for to avoid social engineering attacks. By raising awareness, employees can become additional eyes and ears for any potential attacks.

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Choose technology partners wisely

While training internal staff is important, it’s also vital to bring in the experts. However, don’t just pick the first technology partner that comes your way. The ultimate partner will be certified to global standards, will have a Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT), and will have strategic partnerships with key security experts. A technology partner that supports the organisation on the digital transformation journey is not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.

With the advancement of technology moving hand-in-hand with an increase in cyber attacks, it’s never been more important to keep cyber security front of mind for IIoT. Without the right protection in place, your door is unlocked for any intruder to come in.

Written by Matt Newton, senior portfolio marketing manager at AVEVA

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