Software and Data Security Set to Change the Landscape in 2018

Industry 4.0 continues to be the change agent on everyone’s lips, but repeated software and data breaches across many other industry verticals have highlighted the importance of data security on the factory floor.

In 2018, cybersecurity threats are predicted to increase and become mainstream. The sheer volume of threats are likely to overwhelm many IT departments to the point where experts suggest the only realistic way of detecting and neutralizing these attacks will be through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Bitcoin has been in the headlines in recent months because of its massive gains on the cryptocurrency markets. However, behind the Bitcoin phenomenon is a super-secure system called ‘Blockchain’. Put simply Blockchain is a decentralized network of nodes that accepts, verifies and passes on multiple instructions which are encrypted using advanced cryptography. The network is transparent, safe, auditable and virtually impenetrable to hackers.

Blockchain networks are set to disrupt a number of industries in the coming months, including cybersecurity, supply chain management and Networking and IoT.

Transactions can be documented in a permanent, decentralized record, which can be monitored or managed securely and transparently. This can reduce time delays and limit human error. It can also monitor costs, waste and emissions throughout the factory.

Another benefit of this technology is its ability to accurately track products from their origin, reducing fraud, counterfeit components and bad labor practices.

In recent months there has been a number stories in the press concerning hackers breaking into consumer devices such as your fridge, your video doorbell or any other domestic, connected device. IBM and Samsung are both working on a blockchain technology for consumer products. By eliminating the need to report to one IP address, these devices will become more secure and unhackable.

In some ways, blockchain flies in the face of the industry’s desire to have more open software interfaces, but used as a gatekeeper between your MES software system and Cloud storage, it can become a highly effective protective barrier at the digital entrance to your factory.

It also offer the benefits of working with your trusted suppliers and customers to share even more data across a trusted network.

Once inside your digital factory walls, the role of software becomes much more open as your MES system is expected to communicate more freely with your M2M software system and other supply chain and inventory systems on the factory floor.

Likewise, your M2M software is expected to communicate with any machine on your production line, including legacy equipment. Older production equipment may not monitor or report as many metrics as new machines, but what data can be reported, can be extracted through a number of third party interfaces available on the market today.

And, for those companies implementing Hermes compliant equipment, your M2M software will be expected to integrate seamlessly with The Hermes Standard.

Impending legislation

Not only is the technology changing at a rapid pace, but legislation to further protect consumer data and how we handle, utilize and protect it will become the subject of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) which comes into effect on May 25th. The enhanced data protection rules will not only apply to all organizations and individuals in the EU, but also any foreign companies or entities doing business within the EU.

The fines and penalties for infringing these regulations are severe. Companies who have not already examined their compliance with GDPR would be advised to give this matter urgent attention.

The storage of personal data does not only extend to the possession and use of the data, but also the accuracy and security of it as well, meaning that if your databases were hacked and the information used for nefarious purposes, you could be liable to prosecution.

–TREVOR GALBRAITH.

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