Secure software foundations for Industry 4.0

October 20, 2016 // By Mark Pitchford
Engineering organisations across almost every industrial sector are not short of guidance when it comes to designing, developing and deploying an industrial internet that is interoperable, safe and secure.

In particular, the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and the Working Group for Industrie 4.0 have generated guidelines and recommendations in the form of the Industrial Internet Reference Architecture (IIRA) and the Reference Architectural Model for Industrie 4.0 (RAMI 4.0) respectively. It is naturally true that given the similarity of the remits for each of these documents, there are similarities and overlaps between the two frameworks, as is reflected in the live and current discussions on co-operation between the two organisations.

Both communities acknowledge that strong security is an essential requirement for the Industrial IoT. Indeed, the IIC has recently introduced the Industrial Internet Security Framework (IISF) to provide guidance in this regard, and as the two communities work together to achieve alignment in a number of areas, security has been identified as a key issue.

The security challenge can be illustrated by reference to an imaginary production plant, with many demands on its systems infrastructure. Sensors provide operations owners the ability to collate data such as location, position, speed, temperature, pressure, lock status and vibration about all their assets in near real-time. At a higher security level still, process plant settings or even firmware can be updated remotely perhaps in response to this data, or to changing production demands. And production figures and profitability provide security headaches of a different, commercial kind; sensitive information divorced from the sensors’ engineering data.

Figure 1 shows how RAMI 4.0 abstracts such considerations into a three dimensional matrix, consisting of Layers, a Life Cycle and Value Stream, and Hierarchy Levels.

Fig. 1: Reference architecture model for Industrie 4.0 (RAMI 4.0).

This is a strikingly similar representation to the “Functional Domains” and “Viewpoints” preferred by the IIC IIRA model (Figure 2).

Fig. 2: Representation of IIC Functional Domains and Viewpoints.

Design category: