News Feature | June 14, 2016

While Most Execs Find IIoT Strategy Critical, Only 25% Have One In Place

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

IIoT Strategy

As IIoT increases risks of cyberattacks, business execs search for solutions.

An overwhelming 81 percent of business executives say successful adoption of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is critical to the future success of their company, but only one-quarter report having a clear IIoT strategy in place. Additionally, only 24 percent among those are happy with its execution, according to findings of a recent GenPact report.

The study, produced in collaboration with EG Digital and Industrial Internet Consortium, was conducted by IndustryWeek Custom Research and designed to assess how companies are leveraging the industrial internet to transform their business. The findings came from survey responses of 173 senior executives from manufacturing companies across North America, U.K., Europe, and Asia-Pacific.

Leaders in leveraging IIoT seek primarily growth (90 percent) and agility (85 percent), according to the study. The biggest hurdles for leaders are data security (51 percent) and privacy (39 percent), while others struggle with legacy systems (36 percent), the inability to conduct fast experiments, and insufficient skills of their IT staff (34 percent.)

Additionally, the findings revealed half of the leaders (58 percent) surveyed believe the IIoT increases their company’s susceptibility to cyberattacks, while more than half do not think their company has a response plan in place to prevent losses from such threats. In fact, 45 percent expect to suffer at least one cyberattack in the next year. A significant distinction was noted as 50 percent of leaders think interconnectivity helps proactively manage cyberattack risks, compared to only 33 percent of the strivers.

Guy Barnet-Magen, CTO Nation-E, says business leaders need to know there are security solutions available for the IIoT. In an email, he explained, “The internet of things (IoT) dramatically extends the reach of cyber-attacks to almost every part of our lives 3 cars, homes, streets, cameras, internet controlled drones used for illegitimate surveillance, or even a weapon system.”

He cited two actions to effectively secure the IoT and the IIoT:

  1. Create an integrated team of security specialists to work with business managers and technical expert, which will allow for greater collaboration, ensuring that the business and security concerns are well balanced and any vulnerabilities identified can be responded to early in the product life-cycle.
  2. Incorporate security best practice within the IoT product development process, conduct threat analysis and focus on their weaknesses. Identifying these areas and creating a plan to amend them is most of the battle.

Barnet-Magen adds, “That being said, security is an ongoing process and not a one-time investment. The development life-cycle should focus on the security of the product, but also take into account scenarios where an attack takes place. That gives an opportunity to design (rather than patch) security mechanisms for future attacks before they happen.”

Industrial inclined hackers are targeting the organization operational technology (OT) domain, identifying the vulnerable and often invisible parts of the network. “This is especially true with industrial companies that are aiming to transition to the next generation of industrial IT, otherwise known as Industry 4.0. Connecting the physical assets to the IT domain, makes it very simple for hackers to access and control critical infrastructure,” Magen said. “This is why we are experiencing an increased trend of attacks on physical assets, the internet of things and especially the Industrial IoT (IIoT). The IT domain is well established — security wise. The OT domain is still very vulnerable to attacks, it just didn’t get the chance to go through the evolution the IT domain has done in the past 15 years.”