Enhancing IoT security in manufacturing sites

Omron Corporation and Cisco are collaborating to enhance the IoT security of manufacturing sites. Under the collaboration Omron will integrate Cisco’s leading networking and security technology into Omron programmable logic controllers (PLCs). The result will be to deliver reliability under extreme conditions at manufacturing plants using IoT. This will help manufacturers achieve safe and secure manufacturing.

As IoT becomes increasingly widespread, the number of connected devices is likely to reach 50 billion by 2020. Moreover, manufacturers around the world are strengthening their global competitiveness by improving their manufacturing. Industry is also making manufacturing sites intelligent through active use of digital technologies. At the same time, manufacturing sites are facing more serious IoT security threats than ever before.

IoT security in manufacturing

This comes from reported cases of disrupted production due to ransomware and other malware attacks.
Furthermore, customers and markets are demanding higher levels of quality and safety. In addition to more stringent regulations on food and pharmaceutical products, traceability is needed to ensure the quality products. In addressing these issues, manufacturers face significant challenges in continuing to improve their manufacturing technologies. Further demands on them come from integrating IoT in the manufacturing environment and fulfilling their corporate social responsibility.

Omron and Cisco plan to construct a secure environment with PLCs providing IoT security authentication for three elements. These are: people at manufacturing sites; devices connected to machinery, and production lines, and data exchanged.

People (user) authentication:

PLCs will authenticate user access and grant secure remote access (VPN) only to authorized users. Thus facilitating the safe monitoring of PLCs and machines at manufacturing sites.

Device authentication:

PLCs will detect device connections, block access from unauthorized devices, and issue alerts in real time.

Data authentication:

PLCs will encrypt communication data and ensure the appropriate correct transmission of data. They will also detect and record unauthorised access and security threats by monitoring data in the network.

Omron’s current machine automation controller NJ Series comes as standard with an OPC UA server. It is compliant with the security enabled global communications standard. The new PLCs will also enable secure data communication with software and devices supporting OPC UA. Finally, the companies will expand the range of solutions available to users.