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Future Trends Of OT And IIoT And The Security Concerns

Traditional industries and manufacturing are in throes of the digital transformation. The game is changing, and #CIOIndustry40Forum is the game changer.

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Future Trends Of OT And IIoT And The Security Concerns

When you think of manufacturing, you picture a large and grimy factory, with rows and rows of individuals, doing menial and often hazardous tasks. Now is the time to do away with that image, because not only the image of manufacturing is changing, but the very idea of how tasks are accomplished is changing.

Welcome to the Industry 4.0 movement, where digital transformation is part and personal of improving processes and customer experiences. IT, OT, IoT, IIoT are different abbreviations that are all frequently used in combination with Industry 4.0 and digital transformation.

To start at the highest level, Industry 4.0 refers to the 4th industrial revolution where factories, machines and equipment get connected, (big) data is generated, analyzed and used to make the process smart.

In an industrial environment IT and OT are often used, OT (Operational technology)refers to the hardware and software used to change, monitor, or control physical devices, processes, and events within a factory or production facility. Examples in the process industry are Scada, DCS and PLC systems.

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“Operational technology (OT) is hardware & software detecting or causing a change, through the direct monitoring &/or control of industrial equipment, assets, processes and events,” said Matthew Taljaard, the expert for operational technology Cyber Security in Africa, Fortinet.

He went on to explain as manufacturers adopt Industry 4.0, the industry becomes an increasingly appealing target for attackers, who have the opportunity to move laterally across a manufacturing network, jumping across IT and OT systems for their malicious activities. Without strong protections in place, bad actors can take advantage of systems for industrial espionage, intellectual property theft, IP leakage, or even production sabotage.

“Security is applied differently between IT & OT because they require different solutions,” continued Taljaard, making it clear that Security in the OT environment requires an OT solution, a solution that is different from what would be used in an IT security problem. Taljaard also spoke in detail about how pandemic has accelerated the IT and OT convergence for many organisations, thereby explaining that “It is really important to understand that attacks to other networks such as IT systems, damage OT systems because of convergence issues.”

IIoT is a technology to easily connect devices and increase datapoints at relative low cost. Today this is mainly in the IT domain and this data can be used to analyze the processes, monitor trends or make process smart through AI. Yet, despite the cutting edge technology at work and on display, Taaljard emphasises that one must develop a risk based security mindset, this will this will help keep an accurate inventory of all OT assets in real time.

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In many industries additional data can have a predictive and preventive impact on maintenance, safety and the environment which has a direct impact on OT. According toMcKinsey, increased throughput and increased efficiency are the largest opportunities in industries like chemical, petrochemical and refining.

For example, predicting maintenance activity rather than reacting to an issue and preventing accidents and environmental spills reduces downtime and cost related to these incidents. For example, adding sensors to pumps, can be used to monitor trends like vibration or sensors on valves can be used to alarm misbehaviour like wrong valve operations.

Next level insights like these, and more were unearthed at the CIO Africa Industry 4.0 virtual forum, the forum lived up to its expectation of being an unparalleled meeting place for decision-makers, manufacturing and production managers, digital leaders, and other business professionals to share knowledge and experience in optimising the production in the age of technology.

Evidently, the industry 4.0 is not the next big thing, it is the big thing here and now. As far as manufacturing goes, the CIO100 Awards have a category specifically for the manufacturing sector. Do you think you have what it takes to bring home the lucrative award? Apply here and find out.

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Do you have a story that you think would interest our readers? write to us editorial@cioafrica.co

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