Benefitting from edge computing without hampering security
Applications using Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies derive significant benefit from processing at the network edge due to the tremendous amounts of data involved. Edge computing reduces latency in highly connected production environments and enhances their autonomy by reducing the distance between the data source and the location of its processing.
Without using edge devices, these data-intensive operations would be extremely inefficient, since data would need to travel much farther, perhaps to a cloud server, incur subscription costs and the ownership of the data itself may be lost. However, the decision to process data closer to its source can pose security concerns.
How can manufacturers reap the rewards of a more responsive and flexible production environment while also protecting their data?
What happens when data is made vulnerable?
Some manufacturers place a machine control layer on top of a conventional operating system. Unfortunately, these type devices raise security concerns when inserted into networked industrial environments, since hackers can exploit known vulnerabilities in the operating system (OS) to perform costly ransomware attacks.
In these attacks, hackers place a lock on key files and extort ransom payments in exchange for removing the lock. Whether or not a company pays the ransom, the attacks themselves often cost several millions – if not hundreds of millions – of dollars in lost production due to unexpected downtime.
These security concerns are a major barrier for manufacturers wishing to benefit from the major productivity enhancements that IIoT solutions can provide. Fortunately, Omron has developed a means of keeping data safe while enabling edge computing.
Omron’s unique solution: isolate the production environment
The secret to protecting machine data in IIoT applications lies in the unique multicore architecture of Omron’s NY industrial computer. This computer limits the potential for intrusion in connected production environments by isolating its machine control QNX Neutrino on a Real Time Operating System (RTOS) from guest operating systems such as Microsoft Windows or Linux.
If hackers manage to exploit a vulnerability in the enterprise-facing operating systems, the RTOS production network won’t be effected because the industrial computer’s multicore architecture provides a virtual bridge that isolates production infrastructure from intrusion and attack. The computer delivers outstanding compute and bi-directional communication capabilities.
The Omron NY’s two operating systems for the enterprise and production workloads function simultaneously but separately because they are partitioned down to the hardware layer. This separation establishes a virtual firewall between the production and enterprise networks, and the computer can continue processing and storing data locally even if communication with the enterprise backend or cloud-based systems is disrupted.
Thanks to this innovative solution, manufacturers can move processing tasks to the network edge while enhancing security. This helps companies capture the vast amounts of data they need to improve real-time visibility and optimize production processes.