IT security in Industry 4.0

IT-Sicherheit in der Industrie 4.0

The concept of Industry 4.0 is promoting the connection of machines via the Internet, opening up previously closed systems to new threats, such as cyberattacks or malware.

Up to now, industrial machines and systems in industry have only been connected in part, if at all. Data was sent using a company's own standards and local networks. This data hardly every left the company's premises. The concept of Industry 4.0 is promoting the connection of machines via the Internet, opening up previously closed systems to new threats, such as cyberattacks or malware. Protecting IT systems calls for a comprehensive security concept and strategic information security management. Companies should ensure that their security concept is free from loopholes and can do so with the following eight measures:

1. Protect the network

Protecting the internal network with a firewall is a vital basis for comprehensive security as this prevents outside attacks via the Internet. Legitimate access from outside (from branch offices, home offices or mobile devices) is carried out via an encrypted virtual private network (VPN).


2. Monitor the system

In connected production, all systems must be monitored in all areas of the company. Security monitoring software can detect irregularities and security problems in realtime. IT staff can then take immediate action and eliminate the problem.


3. Detect attack

It makes sense to use special IT systems to detect (Intrusion Detection Systems, IDS) and ward off (Intrusion Prevention Systems, IPS) cyberattacks. These systems provide information on the course of an attack and they supplement other security systems.


4. Secure end points

End points are all types of devices that access other IT systems via a network, for instance, network devices, mobile devices and computers, as well as special Industry 4.0 systems. They are secured by various so-called end-point protection measures, such as virus scanners, patch management, they prevent the installation of unauthorised applications and control interfaces.


5. Restrict applications

App management is an important part of end-point security as this tool distinguishes between apps that are permitted and those that are not. Both industrial and office applications should be taken into account here. Whitelisting is a particularly secure way to ensure that only previously defined applications are permitted.


6. Identify machines and IT systems

In Industry 4.0, machines and computer systems have access to internal systems which means that they require a secure identity. These identities are confirmed by digital machine certificates issued by trusted institutions, such as D-TRUST (a company of the Bundesdruckerei Group).


7. Assign user rights

Identity and access management (IAM) is needed to identify people and machines. This measure protects the systems from unauthorised access by granting user identities and assigning access rights. This means that all access to the system is attributable and can be traced at all times.


8. Encrypt data

Connections and data carriers that are not encrypted are highly susceptible to industrial espionage and other forms of attack from outside. Two aspects are decisive here. First of all, data carriers should be encrypted using today's methods that are considered to be secure, such as RSA. Second, all data connections should use so-called end-to-end encryption. With this kind of encryption, the data is encrypted for the entire transmission and is not decrypted on intermediate systems.

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