The Internet of Things (IoT) has garnered a lot of attention in recent years. With tens of billions of devices projected to be connected by 2020, this method of wireless connectivity contains a platform that’s going to be used in several industries ranging from communication and manufacturing, to automation and even assisting people in their everyday routines. Most people are unaware the IoT actually breaks down in two distinctive types—consumer IoT and Industrial IoT (commonly abbreviated as IIoT). While both platforms share many general similarities, they’re distinguished by several differences ranging from durability and cybersecurity procedures, to application types (just to mention a few).
Sensors used in industrial deployment for IIoT devices need to endure environments that aren’t traditionally experienced by consumer devices. IIoT devices must sustain extreme humidity, temperature, and corrosion—just to mention a few. IIoT technologies that measure fluids like water and oil are often submerged within the liquids, and must meet high industry standards for waterproofing (established by IP68 certification). IoT devices on the industrial side often must be HazLoc certified as well, to prove their capability of withstanding explosive and combustible environments.
IIoT systems can aid in generating billions of data points, meaning consideration needs to be given to means of sending information from sensors to their final destination—usually some sort of industrialized control system. IIoT manufacturers are constantly devising hardware to implement preliminary analytics directly at device-level instead of on a program (and cloud-based server) to avoid bombarding these centralized systems with data. Consequently, consumer IoT applications usually involve fewer devices and data points compared to IIoT. As a result, there’s a considerable loss of concern for minimizing throughput to central servers.
IIoT sensors commonly measure parameters at remote developments that are difficult to physically access. Many are usually submerged below ground or water, in high elevations, offshore, or remote stretches of arid terrain. Since it’s difficult and costly to send technicians for inspections, these devices and sensors need to have maximum possible battery life (to minimize frequency of inspections), which is achievable by installing industrial-grade batteries.
Since IIoT devices have critical control over operations that aren’t often accessible by human operators, their systems are usually required to be fully remotely controllable with minimal response times, and have built-in watchdog timers to ensure systems automatically reboot (in the event of a system hang). Consumer IoT products are usually located in easily accessible locations and can account for fixed sources of power or conventional consumer-grade batteries.
With 70 percent of commonly-used devices containing vulnerabilities, cybersecurity is paramount in the IoT, and provides some distinguishing qualities between consumer and industrial devices. The major distinctions arise from the ramifications behind hacking consumer devices (like in smart homes), and industrial systems (like power grids). While smart homes will have significant consequences for the user if a hacker obtains private data like live video feeds, the breach is only at a local level.
Should the same incident occur in an IIoT system, the consequences can be more widespread and catastrophic, as they’re capable of affecting thousands of people. This is why IIoT installations are faced with more demanding cybersecurity requirements before approving installations for use. IIoT also integrates information and operational technology systems. By comparison, consumer IoT systems only need interfacing with simplistic control mechanisms on consumer devices.
Filed Under: Cybersecurity, M2M (machine to machine)