By: Brian DeVault

Industrial processes and machines are becoming more smart and modular. A critical enabler of this transformation is the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart, always-connected devices provide real-time contextual information with low overhead to optimize processes and improve how companies and individuals interact, work, and live.

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Network Security Evolution

As ransomware evolves and becomes more of a commodity, this has become the organized crime of our generation. Cyber mercenaries are now acting like nation-states and have been able to grow due to the pandemic. The contact-tracing application ecosystem has created opportunities for bad actors, and adversaries will step up their attacks on the software supply chain and logistics companies as well. The threat landscape continues to grow exponentially, and with more IoT devices, there are tools and frameworks that are progressing to help us mitigate the risk as much as possible.

It all starts with the network, and zero trust network access (ZTNA) adoption is a must. ZTNA enables security teams with a continuous real-time check on who is accessing information and when. With the adoption of software-defined networks and the growing trend of intent-based networks, having this enabled is a growing trend.

This can also help with addressing the 5G attack surface. As 5G availability grows, so will your attack surface. 5G offers easy network integration to industrial control systems and operation technology (ICS/OT), but the result is an increased attack surface and exposure to underlying flaws in how these networks operate. ICS/OT environments reliance on network segmentation today to mitigate risks will not have the same effectiveness.

Constant Growth of IOT

Advanced principal technologies and a proliferation of devices have helped fuel the growth of IoT technologies. Further growth in the coming years will be possible thanks to new sensors, more computing power, and reliable mobile connectivity.

Sensor technology, embedded in IoT devices, will continue to become cheaper, more advanced, and more widely available. In turn, this availability and cost-effectiveness will make new sensor applications possible, including large-scale monitoring and detection. Meanwhile, computing power has increased about 100 times in the past 15 years. Applications such as real-time analytics and artificial intelligence can thus shift activity from local devices toward cloud and edge computing solutions. In addition, improved mobile connectivity with the advent of 5G will allow new applications for experiences such as augmented and virtual reality.

Finally, the IoT market will grow because existing IT devices will need to be linked to the IoT. Growth in traditional connected IT devices is admittedly moderate, about 2 percent per year. However, the installed base of more than five billion smartphones, two billion personal computers, and one billion tablets indicates a massive market for device integration.

Wide applications

The IoT already numbers more than 200 known applications in enterprise settings, but IoT adoption isn’t limited to large companies. Adopters have moved beyond pilots to scale IoT solutions across their businesses. Indeed, IoT technologies have already given rise to a number of landmark applications in sectors as diverse as Industry 4.0, smart cities, smart homes, connected cars, and e-health.

Furthermore, advances in the technologies that contribute to the IoT mean that all affected sectors can now access functionality that did not exist five years earlier. For instance, B2B companies have started using Industry 4.0 technologies to maintain direct connections to their products in the field. This constant monitoring makes predictive maintenance possible and improves efficiency and equipment uptime.

This blog post is part of NETRIO’s weekly Whiteboard Wednesday series. Follow along on Linkedin and YouTube each week as Brian and Mike discuss use cases, new technology, and trends.