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Drop the IT-Centric Mindset: Securing IoT Networks Requires New Thinking

The Internet of Things (IoT) has become a popular topic of discussion amongst security company executives, analysts, and other industry pundits. But when they begin discussing the technical details, it quickly becomes evident that many of the most experienced security professionals still approach IoT with an IT-centric mindset. That’s because they believe IoT is mostly about the billions of new connected objects. While the dramatic increase in the number and types of connected objects certainly expands the attack surface and dramatically increases the diversity of threats, they’re only part of the IoT security challenge. In addition, the convergence of the organization’s existing IT network with the operational technology (OT) network (e.g., manufacturing floors, energy grids, transportation systems, and other industrial control systems) expands the depth of security challenges and makes threat remediation remarkably more complex.

While IT and OT were once separate networks, they’re now simply different environments within a single extended network ‒ but by no means are they the same! The architectures, operational needs, platforms, and protocols are vastly different for each of them, which drive radically different security needs for each of them. As a result, security architectures, solutions, and policies that have proven effective for years in the IT world often don’t apply in OT environments, so attempting to enforce consistent security policies across the extended network is doomed for failure.

Protecting data confidentiality is IT’s primary concern, so when faced with a threat, their immediate response is to quarantine or shut down the affected system. But OT runs critical, 24×7 processes, so data availability is their primary concern. Shutting down these processes can cost the organization millions of dollars, so the cost of remediation may be greater than simply dealing with the aftermath of an infection. In addition, because OT is a human-based operation in what can be dangerous working conditions, their focus is on the safety of their operation as well as their employees. As a result of these main differences, the two groups approach security in completely different ways. While IT uses a variety of cybersecurity controls to defend the network against attack and to protect data confidentiality, OT views security more in terms of secure physical access, as well as operational and personnel safety.

Securing IoT networks must go beyond today’s thinking. Rather than focusing on the individual security devices, they need to be networked, so that they can work together to produce comprehensive, actionable security intelligence.  By combining numerous systems, including cyber and physical security solutions, IoT-enabled security can improve employee safety and protect the entire system from the outside, as well as the inside. As a best practice, IT should maintain centralized management over the entire security solution, but with a high level of understanding of the specific needs of OT. Based on that understanding, they need to enforce differentiated security policies to meet those specific needs, and provide localized control over critical OT systems.

At the end of the day, IT and OT need to work together for the common good of the entire IoT implementation – thereby driving truly pervasive, customized security across the extended network.

Want to learn about the part Big Data plays in your overall security plan, and how Cisco can help organizations deliver the security they need to succeed in the IoT and IoE eras? Join us for a webcast at 9 AM Pacific time on October 21st entitled ‘Unlock Your Competitive Edge with Cisco Big Data and Analytics Solutions.’ #UnlockBigData

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Video Showcases Hamburg’s Digital Smart City + Port Connection

This blog post was co-authored by Michael Ganser, Cisco’s SVP for Central and Eastern Europe. Follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelGanser

The inter-connection among society, the economy and environment, enabled by Internet of Everything (IoE) technology, was a central theme at the recent M-Smart City Summit hosted by the City of Hamburg.

Port of Hamburg Blog Image

It is no coincidence that the Summit was incubated here and its public and private sector leaders advanced the overall theme of connecting the
unconnected
.  Collectively, Hamburg’s leadership is driving a visionary strategy to digitize the entire metropolitan region, virtually connecting government, port, business, citizenry, healthcare, academia, public safety and other key organizations.

After just a few years, historic Hamburg has burst into the 21st century as not only a modernized Smart City, but also as a Smart + Connected Community, or, as some call it, a futuristic Seatropolis, anchored by the economic powerhouse of Hamburg‘s port operations.

Essential Application Centric Infrastructure

Today, we are thrilled to release a new video starring Hamburg. In “Internet of Everything Transforms Hamburg into a Smart City,” we showcase how leaders started with an ICT master plan to incorporate a single platform for collaboration, that leverages essential Application Centric Infrastructure. This integrated network stretches across departments and organizations throughout the urban landscape, seamlessly connecting people, processes data  and things — a single digital overlay to existing physical infrastructure.

With many more Internet of Everything plans still in the works, Hamburg has already realized tremendous value Read More »

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IoTWF Hackathon in Chicago: Inviting Dreamers to #IoTWFHack

IoTWF HackImagine a world where inanimate objects have the chance to speak. A machine could tell a manager that her employees were in danger because its parts are aging. Imagine a world where objects can speak to one another to make you  and the environment safer, to transport you faster, to make industries more productive and cities more friendly. That world is coming and that world is enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT).

Now imagine being part of that transformation. With less than 1% of things in the physical world connected to the Internet, there is an incredible opportunity to connect the unconnected, to gather, analyze, and act upon all sorts of “undiscovered data” as we move towards connecting billions of new things.

That is why Cisco is inviting developers, hackers, designers, entrepreneurs, students and other dreamers to be a part our 24- hour hackathon featuring APIs specifically made for IoT projects. At the end of it all, one team will be chosen to have their idea presented at the exclusive, invite-only IoT World Forum.

Here are some details about the event: Read More »

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From Forklifts to Shelves, IoE is “Lighting Up” Warehouses around the World

Connecting Dark Assets: An ongoing series on how the Internet of Everything is transforming the ways in which we live, work, play, and learn. 

If you’re trying to run a business today, you are undoubtedly dealing with global manufacturing and distribution systems—and competitors from around the world. The Internet has given companies of all sizes access to a global marketplace, and that means competing in an environment where cost is king, and margins are razor-thin. No wonder manufacturers and distributors are trying to squeeze every bit of inefficiency out of every link in their supply chains.

Fortunately, the Internet of Everything (IoE) is here to light up “dark” supply chain assets by connecting them to data, things, and processes that multiply their value. As a matter of fact, Cisco Consulting Services’ research shows that IoE has the potential to create or migrate $2.7 trillion in value over 10 years’ time by improving supply chain and logistics efficiency and reducing waste.

Take, for example, the common forklift. It’s an ubiquitous feature of factories, warehouses, and loading docks everywhere—but not tremendously efficient when you factor in the time it takes for a driver to locate the correct pallet, and the damage that sometimes occurs while navigating stacked pallets through narrow warehouse aisles. But when IoE “lights up” this dark asset by giving it sensing capabilities and connecting it to the right data and software, the forklift becomes an auto-guided vehicle (AGV)  that can find its own way through a massive warehouse. The AGV can go directly to the correct pallet of goods and deliver it at the right time to the right place. It will even plug itself into a charging station at the right time to ensure optimal battery life.

But it’s not just auto-guided forklifts that are transforming warehouse efficiency—sometimes it’s robot-guided shelves. Amazon is using small Kiva warehouse robots to move portable shelves from warehouse storage to an area around the perimeter Read More »

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AGT and Cisco’s New IoE Solutions for Smart Cities: City Safety and Traffic Incident Management

Cities are growing rapidly, stressing infrastructure and essential services while budgets remain tight. As the growth engines of the global economy, cities are competing with each other to achieve greater quality of life for their citizens, to attract new businesses and to achieve sustainability goals. Imagine safer city and neighborhood streets, fewer traffic jams, cleaner air and quicker commutes in these rapid growth centers. These are some of the benefits that residents of cities deploying AGT International and Cisco’s joint city solutions can expect.

Today, Cisco announced new and updated Connected Safety and Security solutions along with a group of ecosystem partnerships, including AGT, that remedy the challenges of easily managing, securing and safeguarding assets such as people, property and things in remote sites. Cisco is partnering with industry-leading companies, such as AGT, to leverage the new capabilities and benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT), provide customers with highly secure, interoperable solutions and services in order to take advantage of the Internet of Everything (IoE), and help businesses and governments make money, save money and provide enhanced safety. Read More »

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