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Disrupt or die? Start with the fundamentals

By Anasia D’mello

Your digital strategy must be driven by a clear understanding of the customer’s needs and the way your products relate to them. Digital transformation doesn’t require a radical rethink of a business model that previously brought success – it simply means leveraging better, more efficient technologies to meet and exceed customer expectations and allow data to shape strategic priorities. Thomas Honoré, CEO of Columbus explains how vital peer insight from early adopters can help manufacturers embrace disruption and stay ahead of the competition.

I often wonder if manufacturing organisations feel as if they are trapped in a Tardis, racing at the speed of light into uncharted territory. No sooner have they embraced the Internet of Things (IoT) than the next big thing comes along. After getting ready for Industry 4.0, suddenly it is last year’s news and they are being told to prepare for Industry X.0.

Look at the big picture but start close to home

Trends are important, no doubt, because each market trend creates opportunities for disruption, and disruption is a business changer. But this disruption is not something that happens in Silicon Valley or Shanghai – it is happening right now, just outside your door.

Car-sharing schemes have disrupted car rental businesses, free newspapers have challenged print publishing, and online-only estate agents are taking market share from high street players. Almost every business is under siege from innovative rivals with better digital skills – but that shouldn’t deter you.

Some studies estimate that up to half of all jobs will be threatened by automation over the next ten years, from pilot to auditor, accountant to estate agent. Accenture reports that 95% of chief executives expect major strategic challenges regarding disruption and the fourth industrial revolution – and yet only 20% of their organisations
are prepared for this.

Automation is here – but innovation is still driven by people, for the people

In the rush to disrupt, we risk overlooking the fundamentals. It all starts with the customer. Do you really know what your customers want? Do you know where your product adds value – and where it falls short?

In a recent Columbus industry report, experts from Microsoft, Weetabix and BMW Oxford all agreed that in order to grow, manufacturers must listen to their customer’s needs and build a ‘Manufacturing 2020′ strategy that allows them to constantly meet rising expectations.

As Gunther Boehner, director of Assembly at BMW Oxford says in the report, “Manufacturers need to have a strong focus on their core processes, which directly relate to customers’ needs and pain points. Flexibility in manufacturing is key.”

We see too many companies still struggling to understand how their products are used. Making clever use of IoT presents a huge opportunity for manufacturers to get closer to the customer, but it only works if you have the organisation, processes and systems to make sense of that extra data.

Don’t go it alone

In this climate of continuous innovation there is a greater need for skills and technology – but for most manufacturers developing all these solutions in-house is not an option. Careful selection of technology […]

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Endpoints are most vulnerable aspect of industrial IoT: Sans survey reveals confusion over security

By Anasia D’mello

Organisations hold disparate and unrealistic views on protecting the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), in which endpoints are considered to be the most vulnerable aspects, despite confusion over what actually constitutes an endpoint.

These are the key findings of the 2018 Sans Industrial IoT Security Survey report, which examines the security concerns around the rapidly growing use of IIoT. IIoT is the subset of the Internet of Things that focuses specifically on the industrial application of connected physical devices within critical infrastructure such as electricity, manufacturing, oil and gas, transportation and healthcare. The installed base of IoT devices is forecast to triple from 23.14 billion in 2018 to 75.44 billion in 2025.

The Sans report found that most organisations globally are forecasting 10 to 25% growth in their connected devices. This growth rate will cause the systems connected to IIoT devices to double in size roughly every three to seven years. This will ultimately result in increased network complexity as IT and OT become more connected, more demand for bandwidth, and the need for personnel skilled in best security practices related to the design, build and operation of IIoT systems.

Of over 200 respondents surveyed, more than half reported the most vulnerable aspects of their IIoT infrastructure as data, firmware, embedded systems, or general endpoints. At the same time, however, the survey reveals an ongoing debate over the definition of an endpoint.

According to Doug Wylie, director of the Industrials & Infrastructure Business Portfolio at Sans Institute, “The discrepancy in defining IIoT endpoints is the basis for some of the confusion surrounding responsibility for IIoT security.”

“Many practitioners likely are not adequately identifying and managing the numerous assets that in some way connect to networks – and present a danger to their organisations,” he adds. “For this reason, it is important for company IT and OT groups to agree to a common definition to help ensure they adequately identify security risks as they evolve their systems to adapt to new architectural models.”

Other concerns around IIoT security include:

32% of IIoT devices connect directly to the internet, bypassing traditional IT security layers
Almost 40% said identifying, tracking and managing devices represented a significant security challenge
Only 40% reported applying and maintaining patches and updates to protect their IIoT devices and systems
56% cited difficulty in patching as one of the greatest security challenges

The survey also uncovered a wide gap between the perceptions of IIoT security by OT, IT and management, with only 64% of OT departments claiming to be confident in their ability to secure IIoT infrastructure, compared to 83% of IT departments and 93% of business leaders.

“The report highlights a real disparity across organisations in the level of confidence as to how secure the IIoT really is,” said Barbara Filkins, Sans Analyst Programme research director and the survey report author.

“This disparity represents the need for a major cultural change in how industrial organisations must approach the security risks in a world of IIoT.”

The survey sample size was more than 200 within industries such as energy & utilities, cybersecurity, government & public sector, oil & gas production or delivery, and […]

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Addressing the need for simple and affordable IoT connectivity

By IoT Now Magazine

In the short time since their connectivity offering was introduced, @1NCE has gained global recognition as the IoT natives pushing boundaries in the Internet of Things sector, having launched the right product at the right time and addressing the need for simple and affordable IoT connectivity.

1NCE is 100% focused on IoT innovation, creating more than 50 proof of concept use cases in different vertical sectors. With the strategic support of Deutsche Telekom, they’ve created an offer that will unlock the true potential of the IoT. To find out more https://hubs.ly/H0dbjCV0

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Just say no: Wi-Fi-enabled appliance botnet could bring power grid to its knees

By Sean Gallagher

Enlarge / Reddy Kilowatt is not ready for IoT botnets. (credit: EC Comics (formerly Educational Comics))

BALTIMORE—At USENIX Security Symposium here on Wednesday, Saleh Soltan from Princeton University’s Department of Electrical Engineering presented research that showed that if Wi-Fi-based high-wattage appliances become common, they could conceivably be used to manipulate electrical demand over a wide area—potentially causing local blackouts and even cascading failures of regional electrical grids. The research by Soltan, Prateek Mittal, and H. Vincent Poor used models of real-world power grids to simulate the effects of a “MaDIoT” (Manipulation of Demand Internet of Things) attack. It found that even swings in power usage that would be within the normal range of appliances such as air conditioners, ovens, and electric heating systems connected to “smart home” systems would be enough to cause fluctuations in demand that could trigger grid failures.

These kinds of attacks—focused on home-automation hubs and stand-alone connected appliances—have not yet been seen widely. But the increasing adoption of connected appliances (with many home appliances now coming with connectivity by default) and the difficulty of applying security patches to such devices make a Mirai-style botnet of refrigerators increasingly plausible, if not likely.

Soltan and his team looked at three possible categories of potential malicious demand manipulation:

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