IoT: Are SASE and Zero Trust the key?

IoT: Are SASE and Zero Trust the key?

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Are SASE and Zero Trust the key to secure IoT implementation in production environments? As manufacturing companies dive headfirst into smart factory initiatives, the number of IoT devices in factories, warehouses, and across supply chain infrastructure is exploding. 

Companies want to use the Internet of Things in various places, e.g. B. with the help of video cameras on the assembly line, temperature sensors on cooling units or telemetry sensors for the maintenance of factory facilities. But while trying to capitalize on the tremendous business benefits of the intelligent devices in the industrial IoT, they must also weigh the potential risks that the IIoT is increasingly bringing to manufacturing environments.


Security architecture for Industrial IoT

With the explosion of IoT in manufacturing, new challenges are emerging. They require companies in this sector to develop a modern security architecture that can cope with these challenges. Recent industry studies consistently show that manufacturing companies are embracing intelligent manufacturing and the Internet of Things (IoT) at scale as the linchpin of their success in the years to come.

Smart manufacturing and the advent of the IoT

According to Deloitte's 2022 Manufacturing Industry Outlook, approximately 45 percent of manufacturing executives expect to increase operational efficiencies by investing in the Internet of Things (IoT), which connects machines and automates processes. The State of Smart Manufacturing Report, released by Plex this spring, found that for 83 percent of manufacturing companies, smart manufacturing is a key to their company's future success. Smart devices and IIoT are among the most widely used projects to make smart manufacturing a reality. About 49 percent of companies have already deployed smart devices and 45 percent have adopted IIoT in production, another 35 percent and 36 percent plan to deploy these technologies.


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This means that a large part of the computing power in production is shifted to the peripheral areas. AT&T's recent analysis in collaboration with IDC for the AT&T Cybersecurity Insights Report: Securing the Edge-A Focus on Manufacturing found that the manufacturing industry is one of the most advanced in implementing edge applications. The report shows that 78 percent of companies worldwide are planning, partially or fully implementing an edge use case.

Demand for secure remote access

This type of progress found in the report aligns with other industry studies monitoring the progress of digital transformation in manufacturing. A recent study by Palo Alto Networks states that the demand for secure remote access in the manufacturing industry is quickly outstripping other industries.

Among the many use cases mentioned, e.g. For example, smart warehousing, remote operations, and advanced maintenance, video-based inspection was the top priority cited by manufacturing industry respondents in the AT&T Cybersecurity Insights Report. This is an excellent example of how the IIoT is being used to improve efficiency, quality and speed on the factory floor. At the same time, they help companies to meet the challenges in the human resources area.

Risk in production: non-patchable IoT devices

Video-based inspection is also a great example of how IIoT devices can simultaneously increase cyber risk in manufacturing environments. In use cases like this, IoT devices are increasingly connected to OT networks and devices on the shop floor. At the same time, they also give employees access outside of the manufacturing environment to do their work remotely. This is also true for many extended maintenance use cases, which have been cited as the second top edge priority in manufacturing. This increased connectivity opens up a larger attack surface in production environments.

IoT: Gladly installed and then forgotten

🔎 SASE structure to protect enterprise IIoT (Image: Palo Alto Networks).

At the same time, many IoT devices are installed once and then rarely or never patched again. Sometimes the devices are so simple and unidirectional in data flow that it can be difficult to remotely update their software. In other cases (as is often the case in the world of IoT cameras), device manufacturers simply provide little support for updating vulnerable software. And in even more cases, the devices may have been installed alongside very sensitive industrial machinery, where tolerances for downtime are infinitesimal and maintenance windows for patching are almost non-existent.

All of these factors are likely a major contributor to why only 29 percent of manufacturing industry respondents to the AT&T Insights Report said they plan to use patching as a security control to protect components in their edge applications. Without frequent patching, these devices are potentially vulnerable to compromise.

SASE and Zero Trust for effective IoT security

Manufacturing companies can only address the grand challenge of IoT in their environments through the intelligent use of compensating controls and an effective security architecture.

Across the board, manufacturing companies are transitioning to a modernized network with uniform security. The survey results show that they need to offer positive digital experiences not only to their customers, but also to employees on and off the shop floor. One of the key methods leading industrial companies are using to meet these requirements is the use of the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architecture and Zero Trust methods.

SASE and Zero Trust enable a network design to securely enable innovative edge use cases in the factory and beyond. SASE offers manufacturing companies a fast means to secure the IoT edge and maintain the flexibility of connectivity between manufacturing plants and cloud infrastructure.

SASE can mitigate the risk of unpatched IoT devices

They also allow for the introduction of compensatory controls that can help address issues such as an expanded threat surface resulting from increased use of the IoT. For example, SASE's threat services can help offset the added risk of vulnerable, unpatched devices. IoT use cases such as video-based inspections are just a few of the many security use cases where SASE is helping manufacturing companies to progress.

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About Palo Alto Networks

Palo Alto Networks, the global leader in cybersecurity solutions, is shaping the cloud-based future with technologies that transform the way people and businesses work. Our mission is to be the preferred cybersecurity partner and protect our digital way of life. We help you address the world's biggest security challenges with continuous innovation leveraging the latest breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, analytics, automation, and orchestration. By delivering an integrated platform and empowering a growing ecosystem of partners, we are the leaders in protecting tens of thousands of businesses across clouds, networks and mobile devices. Our vision is a world where every day is safer than the one before.


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