Researchers develop secure M2M communications for Industry 4.0

December 12, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
IT security is one of the indispensable ingredients of the intelligent, self-organizing manufacturing landscape described in the industry 4.0 concept. In the APOLI project, a group of companies coordinated by Fraunhofer ESK is developing techniques enabling unequivocal and at the same time user-friendly authentication and authorization of persons and objects involved in such processes.

The security of digital business processes is based on the fact that the identity of a person or a machine, industrial plant or software component is recognized and verified. This, in turn, translates into the authorization to access a services platform or other component in the respective context. This ensures, for example, that for remote maintenance the technician does access the right machine or component and any abuse can be ruled out. However, automated authentication and authorization processes across the industry are mostly complex, inflexible and costly. Proprietary processes mostly used by large corporations are difficult to handle by small and medium enterprises. In an industry 4.0 context where all resources are part of the internet of things, it is expected that these authentication processes will become even more complex and diverse.

The project APOLI intends to optimize these processes and maximize the degree of automation. The participating researchers and engineers will fathom out and assess the potential of new network management approaches SDN (Software Defined Networks) and NFV (Network Function Virtualization) with the goal of creating a consistent, standardized platform for secure communication with machines, for example for remote maintenance access. The model will ensure that machine operators will be able to freely chose their service partners without compromising the user friendliness of their security: The APOLI system will assume complete authentication authorization in the data communications processes among all involved parties.