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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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Fast IT Top Insights Part 1: IT Transformation and Innovation

In the Internet of Everything (IoE) era, CIOs face a maze of challenges — along with a wealth of opportunities.

But for the IT organization to fully realize those opportunities — and become a source of organizational agility and a true partner for innovation in the business — a wholly new IT operating model is required. We call that model Fast IT.

Fast IT is the IT operating model for the IoE era. It is what the CIO needs to do to drive true business transformation.

 

To better understand the current state of IT — and the opportunity for IT transformation amid a dynamic time of change — Cisco undertook a comprehensive global survey and research study.

We surveyed more than 1,400 senior IT leaders in Brazil, Germany, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We interviewed leading industry analysts, authors, academics, IT executives, and IT practitioners. And finally, we compared this data with conclusions from numerous customer engagements.

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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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Internet of Everything: Hype or Hyper Progress?

Last month, Gartner published one of its well-known Hype Cycles, and a Forbes headline summed up a key assertion very well. “It’s Official: The Internet Of Things Takes Over Big Data As The Most Hyped Technology.”

This comes as no surprise to anyone engaged in this market phenomenon – the explosive growth of things connecting to the Internet. At Cisco, our engineers determine that about 13.5 billion things – everything from mobile devices and computers to sensors and machines — are connected today. By 2020, we forecast 50 billion such connections – a much faster adoption rate than electricity or telephony.

Web searches for IoT and media mentions of IoT each have tripled in the past couple of years alone. Our consulting services group confirms that global Internet Protocol (IP) traffic continues to accelerate exponentially, and the last two years have spawned new IoT-related consortia and standards bodies.

The hype clearly has accelerated. However, I passionately believe that in this case the hype is completely justified because it is underpinned by tangible hyper progress throughout all types of industries. Other markets in the past that have ranked high on the Hype Cycle have included ecommerce and wireless technologies, and nobody can argue the rocket success of markets engaged in online business portals, social media or mobile devices such as smart phones.

IoE Can Unleash $19 Trillion in Economic Value

IoT provides the foundation for an even greater – we think unprecedented – technology revolution that Cisco calls, the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE includes the connection of things, people, data and processes, enabling the transformation of data into information, knowledge and wisdom. As a result, Cisco Consulting Services estimates that IoE can unleash $19 trillion of economic value worldwide over the next decade by generating new innovation, revenue streams, customer experiences and improving asset utilization, employee productivity as wel as sup0ply chain and logistics operations.

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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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