Security is part of the business. Rethink your organization for IoT and Smart Manufacturing

IoT (Internet of Things) and Smart Manufacturing are part of the ongoing digital transformation of businesses. IoT is about connected things, from sensors to consumer goods such as wearables. Smart Manufacturing, also sometimes titled Industry 4.0, is about bridging the gap between the business processes and the production processes, i.e. manufacturing goods.

In both areas, security is a key concern. When connecting things, both things and the central systems receiving data back from things must be sufficiently secure. When connecting business IT and operational IT (OT for Operational Technology), frequently systems that formerly have been behind an “air gap” now become directly connected. The simple rule behind all this is: “Once a system is connected, it can be attacked” – via that connection. Connecting things and moving forward to Smart Manufacturing thus inevitably is about increasing the attack surface.

Traditionally, if there is a separate security (and not only a “safety”) organization in OT, this is segregated from the (business) IT department and the Information Security and IT Security organization. For the things, there commonly is no defined security department. The logical solution when connecting everything apparently is a central security department that oversees all security – in business IT, in OT, in things. However, this is only partially correct.

Things must be constructed following the principles of security by design and privacy by design from the very beginning. Security must not be an afterthought. Notably, this also increases agility. Thus, the people responsible for implementing security must reside in the departments creating the “things”. Security must become an integral part of the organization.

For OT, there is a common gap between the safety view in OT and the security perspective of IT. However, safety and security are no dichotomy – we need to find ways of supporting both, in particular by modernizing the architecture of OT, well beyond security. Again, security has to be considered here at any stage. Thus, execution also should be an integral part of e.g. planning plants and production lines.

Notably, the same applies for IT. Security must not be an afterthought. It must move into the DNA of the entire organization. Software development, procurement, system management etc. all have to think about security as part of their daily work.

Simply said: Major parts of security must move into the line of business departments. There are some cross-functional areas e.g. around the underlying infrastructure that still need to be executed centrally (plus potentially service centers e.g. for software development etc.) – but particularly when it is about things, security must become an integral part of R&D.

On the other hand, the new organization also needs a strong central element. While the “executive” element will become increasingly decentralized, the “legislative” and “judicative” elements most be central – across all functions, i.e. business IT, OT, and IoT. With other words: Governance, setting the guidelines and governing their correct execution, is a central task that must span and cover all areas of the connected enterprise.


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