Hannover Fair showcases Industry 4.0 security solutions

  • February 11, 2015
  • News

February 10, 2015 - “Germany specializes in researching, developing and supplying manufacturing technologies and is the world’s leading factory outfitter.” This statement by the Industry 4.0 Working Group formed by Germany’s Business-Science Research Alliance, underscores the enormous role the industrial sector plays for Germany and its global clientele. The exhibitors in the Research & Technology show being under the umbrella of HANNOVER MESSE from April 13 to 17 will demonstrate the tremendous value of close collaboration between the research community and industry, and how accelerated technology transfer can benefit everyone involved.

How secure is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is an important part of the German government’s high-tech strategy because it is the key to achieving the full integration of all manufacturing technologies and systems. The ultimate objective is the so-called “smart factory,” a highly flexible manufacturing environment that meets the most stringent resource efficiency and ergonomic standards and is digitally interlinked with all parts of the value chain, from upstream suppliers to downstream customers. Cyber-physical systems and the Internet of Things will form the backbone of our smart factory future. However, the experts agree that this future will not be possible without robust security. “IT security is one of the critical success factors that will make or break the practical feasibility of comprehensive Industry 4.0 solutions,” said Olaf Sauer from the Karlsruhe-based Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation (Fraunhofer IOSB). Key challenges in this context included the protection of intellectual property, manufacturing networks, and all communications within companies and between companies and the outside world. A system for incorporating security features into a manufacturing plant’s automation architecture had also not yet been developed. According to Sauer, security should be a key consideration at all stages of a plant’s lifecycle, from the initial design phase through to construction, commissioning and daily operation.

Fraunhofer IOSB to present SecurePLUGandWORK project

Visitors to the Fraunhofer IOSB stand at this year’s Research & Technology show will have the opportunity to learn about a cutting edge Industry 4.0 project dubbed “SecurePLUGandWORK.” The project is a joint initiative of Fraunhofer IOSB, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Its principal goal is to use open M2M communication standards, such as AutomationML and OPC UA, to enable the self-configuration of software-driven production processes across all levels of an automation architecture.

AutomationML is an open, XML-based standard series (IEC 62714) that is used to describe and model production plants and plant components. Its ultimate objective is to facilitate seamless data exchange between the different IT tools used by plant manufacturers and operators. This, in turn, significantly expedites production changeover and commissioning processes. OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) is a platform-independent set of industrial standards (IEC 62541) for interconnectivity between industrial automation devices and systems (M2M communication) that is based on a service-oriented architecture.

OPC-UA replaces existing OPC specifications and is already in widespread use in the manufacturing sector. A joint working group comprised of representatives of the German AutomationML Association and the OPC Foundation and headed by Miriam Schleipen of Fraunhofer IOSB has been working on a unified version of both standards since early 2014.

Self-networking components

The ability of manufacturing operations to autonomously adjust to change is the holy grail of Industry 4.0 IT architecture. Examples of “change” in this context include new plant or production processes that need to be incorporated into an existing production system, or adjustments that need to be made to an existing production line in order to cater for a new product variant. Industry 4.0 experts call this “self-regulating production,” a term which is no longer just used in reference to physical processes but is increasingly also applied to manufacturing software.

“The basic principle is similar to the USB and plug & play technologies used in PCs. New components, machines or plants that get introduced to an existing production system establish connectivity with that system via standard protocols, identify themselves and provide information about their functionality. The same mechanism applies when software-related changes are made to the system,” explained Olaf Sauer.

However, it’s important that only authenticated components are given access to a factory’s internal data networks – a safeguard which is still lacking in existing industrial ICT architectures. Changing this will require a concerted effort by ICT experts and industrial engineers. That’s why the SecurePLUGandWORK project team, for instance, is a multidisciplinary group of people comprising engineers, software developers and automation specialists.

Fraunhofer IOSB is in the process of setting up a state-of-the-art IT security laboratory to test the security of Industry 4.0 IT systems under real-world conditions, for instance by simulating different cyberattack scenarios and searching for vulnerabilities in production automation systems.

“The findings will be used to develop analysis tools that will determine the level of security of a manufacturer’s digital systems,” explained Birger Krägelin, IT Security Officer at Fraunhofer IOSB. “We also want to analyze and simulate the potential impact of hacker attacks.” Fraunhofer IOSB hopes that its research will ultimately lead to safe industrial ICT networks, authentication processes and encryption technologies as well as improved training of personnel involved in setting up and operating secure production networks. Fraunhofer IOSB will be showcasing key parts of its laboratory at this year’s Research & Technology show to help visitors understand the critical importance of IT security to the Industry 4.0 vision. 

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