Objects also need secure identities

Objekte sichere Identitäten

In Industry 4.0, identity management is needed for individuals, processes and objects.

The Bourne Identity was one of the most successful films of 2002. After losing his memory and using a false name and false passports, secret agent Jason Bourne went out to find out who he was, his true identity, i.e. his 'Bourne Identity' as the film title so aptly suggests.

We too experience something similar today, albeit not quite as exciting and bloody. Every person is unique and has their own unambiguous identity. IT experts talk of a root identity, and increasingly of derived identities. These are the identities that we use to move about in the digital world: in social networks, for online banking and shopping, as a staff member of a certain department of a company, etc. But the question is always the same: Is the person at the other end really who they claim to be? Only then can we feel good using these new services. Secure identities are therefore the foundation for trust and security in the digital and analogue world.

In Industry 4.0, which is geared to automated job production, smart workpieces steer production. They communicate with machines and transport equipment via their transponders. This means that, in addition to individuals, processes and objects must also be clearly identified, i.e. they must each have a secure identity. Travelling through production, the workpieces are processed and changed according to customer specifications. But does the derived object identity also match the root identity? In other words: Has the starting material or workpiece been deliberately or accidentally replaced, perhaps en-route from the supplier to the factory, so that it now has properties that are not as specified on the delivery note and transponder? Many machines are sensitive and have very low error tolerances. As a rule, the wrong, inferior material is already enough to bring a connected production process to a halt. To curb this risk, objects also need security identities so that they can identify themselves to machines. This can be achieved using a so-called chemical fingerprint of raw materials and workpieces.  

In Industry 4.0, identity management is needed for individuals, processes and objects. This is the only way that companies will open up to the idea of Industry 4.0 and permanently reap the benefits of connected production.

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