Given the proliferation of IoT across different asset-intensive industries, there is a great need for connected devices to be safe and secure.
Cyber hackers have already wrecked havoc, exposing glaring security gaps in IoT devices. For example, the 2016 Mirai and Okiru malware attacks took over connected devices to hobble major internet players Twitter, Amazon and Reddit. That’s particularly vexing for asset-intensive industries because such threat hotspots include critical operational security, communication gateways, compliance protocols, and consumer privacy. With such cybersecurity concerns hovering, a tremendous amount, at least USD 6.2 trillion of the projected upside can be at stake in asset-intensive industries such as utilities, oil & gas, telecom and manufacturing.
By nature, the most vulnerable side of an IoT system to such cybersecurity threats are the publicly accessible communication network that opens multiple attack vectors to hackers. While edge gateway is traditionally recognized by experts as a secure mode of network channel, our research suggests that IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) players should upgrade their cybersecurity field by implementing Machine-To-Machine (M2M) communication methodologies.
The impact of a breached IoT network will vary by industry and by function. For example, the telecom industry that relies on thousands of diesel generators to run its on-site equipment such as towers, might face a catastrophic situation when the backup power generators are compromised. IIoT gateways using basic and publicly accessible channels, in particular, need special attention for the improvement of security. Telecom companies will, almost by definition, be majorly hampered when IIoT gateways connected to the towers are compromised. Services might hault or equipment stall. Other asset intensive industries such as mining, oil and gas, energy, utilities and logistics are found to contain the most gaps across all IoT security layers that we tested. Implementing M2M security framework can mitigate critical security vulnerabilities in IoT devices. How?
What’s the significance of M2M?
M2M communication methods provide on-premise security connections that are not accessible from the internet. This type of network infrastructure is specifically designed to protect the data generated from machines to communicate with specific network channels. There are other reasons for IoT aspirants in the asset intensive industries to invest in the M2M communication method:
- Low power consumption – It is desirable for the M2M system to consume low power. Even in scenarios with heavy machinery requiring M2M connectivity, it is proven that the power consumption levels are lesser than evaluated.
- Less mobile – M2M systems are less mobile and intended for dedicated communication networks.
- Scheduled – Most of the data sending/receiving are pre-scheduled and takes place with operator’s permission.
- Packet switching – M2M is not intended for high speed data transfer; it breaks the message into multiple packets and sends concurrently.
- Time extension – The network is designed keeping in mind that data transfer may take longer time.
IoT & M2M
Both terms, IoT and M2M are used together but mostly overlapping each other. In general, IoT deals with cloud while M2M deals with machines. IoT data is stored over cloud and mostly used for analytical applications such as condition monitoring. M2M data, on the other hand, is stored in point solutions and can be accessed locally. Therefore, it is used for local diagnosis and monitoring.
From the device end perspective, IoT is more focused on sensors, interfacing and networking infrastructure while M2M is more emphasized on Embedded hardware.
From a protocol point of view, IoT deals with IP based communication such as HTTP, COAP, etc. On the contrary, M2M deals with Non-IP based communication that requires communication protocols such as BLE, Zigbee, Modbus, IEEE 802.15.4, etc.
IoT refers to devices as things or objects which are uniquely identifiable and can send data over the internet. M2M systems are homogeneous machines within the network that connect within a limited range of network. IoT data, generally, is provided for public use, while M2M data is intended to be used by particular user groups and hence it is more secure.
M2M for SCADA System
In industrial scenarios, many control systems are based on SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) that are accessible by the public. For example, the SCADA hacking with 4 lines of code got much attention and the world’s largest blackout that happened in India also is representative of the vulnerability in the public SCADA system.
The Industrial IoT (IIoT), at high level is a SCADA system. Similarly, an M2M wireless version is also recognized as a SCADA system. SCADA was designed for isolated systems using proprietary solutions, whereas M2M is designed for cross-platform integrations.
How can we help?
Our practice for IIoT and M2M implementation is based on RTU (Remote Telemetry Units) at edge gateway, giving us the advantage of data acquisition at a lower cost and higher flexibility in network communication. Unlike a cloud based infrastructure, choosing an M2M gives total control over network and accessibility.
At Techolution, we help customers in asset-intensive industries such as government, telecommunications, gas and energy, manufacturing, and mining with M2M-based IoT device provisioning and cloud solutions. Interested in learning more about our capabilities? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org