Network Security for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
Factories of the future will operate using tools and automated systems that communicate with operators, central systems and with each other, to enable complex manufacturing procedures to be conducted and coordinated with precision and reliability. These interconnected smart devices in the manufacturing environment have become known as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). This ubiquitous interconnection of devices and exchange of information allows for extensive situational awareness, supporting real-time decision making based on local and distributed intelligence.
Using IIoT devices, the manufacturing process can be intensively monitored in real time, to measure, monitor and log data. Systems can also proactively assist human decision making by understanding the actions of operators and automatically adjusting tool settings appropriate for the process being undertaken, thus eliminating potential human errors. Current best-practice models in network security depend on segregation to create separations between network segments that contain devices that operate using significantly different protocols, or with greatly different functionality. This security model also allows defence in depth, where highly critical (or highly vulnerable) systems can be protected from other parts of the network via strongly policed firewalls, etc. However, with emerging ubiquitous IIoT networking structures, the principles behind network segregation begin to break down. The IIoT vision relies on huge numbers of devices, all being connected, all communicating with central systems, with each other, or even with the cloud. In this future scenario, protecting the ‘boundary’ of your manufacturing network becomes increasingly difficult because the boundary of what used to be your network becomes blurred, or even disappears. Static and well defined network architectures will become fluid and porous. Therefore, this project will aim to investigate solutions for securing manufacturing environments where IIoT is ubiquitous, leading to networks that are porous, and potentially vulnerable to cyber attacks.
How to Apply
Applicants should apply electronically through the Queen’s online application portal at: https://dap.qub.ac.uk/portal/
Dr Kieran McLaughlin
Telephone: +44 (0)28 9097 1890