Top 3 Industrial IoT segments that need Secure Elements

Last updated: 31 October 2019

The Industrial Internet of Things is changing our world in many brilliant ways, and is enabling businesses to approach work from new angles. The Industrial IoT can be defined as a global network of smart industrial devices, that can communicate data to monitoring systems or other devices anywhere. This internet-centric approach is increasingly prevalent now in many key industries, such as oil, gas, healthcare, transportation, utilities, and even sport. While it is very beneficial for businesses and consumers, there are security issues that warrant careful consideration.

Security concerns for the IoT around wireless signals (particularly short range technology like Zigbee and Bluetooth), cryptography (shared crypto keys can be vulnerable), and physical access to the core of a system architecture need to be addressed. “Security by design” and not as an afterthought is the key here.

When it comes to “security by design”, Secure Elements are crucial, both for addressing the security concerns we’ve mentioned, and for enabling new business models or services. The underlying technology for Secure Elements has a proven track record, and has been used for years in banking and government solutions – it’s also now available in a rugged, robust version for the Industrial IoT. We’ve just launched our Gemalto Cinterion® Secure Element, a tamper-resistant component to be embedded in the Industrial IoT, where you can lock away confidential information, encrypt communication, safeguard data, and authenticate access. Judged by a panel of leading industry analysts and influencers, it’s just been awarded the 2015 Innovation Award for Connected Security at World Smart Week last month. Below, we’ve highlighted the three key verticals where this type of technology is most needed.

  1. Automotive Industry: Connected Cars are transforming the way we interact with vehicles and it’s already the largest vertical for the IoT. Secure Elements in IoT-connected cars are crucial, as they help enable cars to feature innovations such as virtual car keys, remote control/parking, and the safe use of big data thanks to on-board LTE modules. Smart cars are so advanced now, that we’re now being encouraged to “think the impossible”. By 2020, Gartner has predicted there’ll be a quarter billion connected vehicles, enabling automated driving services; this highlights the need of how we must keep car industry secure, especially as exploits can threaten to take remote control of our vehicles otherwise. Without built-in security, you could be driving your car down the freeway at 70 miles per hour, and the gas pedal could stop responding; a demonstration was carried out recently, with hackers taking control of the vehicle and its monitoring architecture.
  1. Smart Grids: our growing and increasingly digital population has a proportionate demand for energy. Smart Grids are the key to making sure we manage this growing demand in an efficient and intelligent way. For the energy industry, these grids are incredibly beneficial as they enable a two-way dialogue where information can be exchanged between power providers and their customers. This network of communication, controls, and automation is a key part of the Industrial IoT, and enables new technologies to be more easily integrated, such as solar and wind power. Furthermore, a Smart Grid ensures quicker restoration of power after cuts, reduced operational and management costs, and lower electricity rates. Smart Grids are now coming into use all over the world, so it’s highly important we keep them secure. For Smart Grids to function, and to control energy consumption and production in real time from both ends, connected devices are needed. For these not to become an open door to sensitive data, systems or networks; built-in security is key. Embedding highly effective Secure Elements with all devices plugged into the network provides a strong ID for each device and allows for client authentication of the device to the back-end. As these devices are unattended most of the time, strong tamper-resistant hardware security in the form of a Secure Element is essential.
  1. Building Automation: connected to smart grids, the internet of buildings is a key vertical in which we must ensure security. While home automation is seen as a consumer IoT segment, industrial buildings play a big part in the Industrial IoT. Connected buildings and offices are important contributors to smart cities and the efficient use of energy, but are vulnerable unless properly secured. This is especially important when you consider how large industrial deployments using SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) or ICS (industrial control system) applications for the remote control of equipment are in play. One exposed USB port on a connected device or key system could enable unauthorized full administrative access. With industrial deployments, you can’t afford to take this risk, especially when there are so many third parties, contractors etc. involved. The best way to protect against physical access vulnerabilities in this case, is to ensure tamper-proof Secure Elements are in place.

Which other key verticals in the Industrial IoT do you think need SEs? Let us know by tweeting to us @Gemalto.