Industry operations are no longer straightforward, centralised processes. Many factory jobs are now done by machines. This makes operations safer and more efficient, but it also means that these machines can be attacked.

With the Internet of Things overtaking the world, there’s the ever-present threat of attacks to connected devices. But could Industry 4.0 technologies actually make industries safer?

‘Safety’ in the workplace

When we talk about ‘safety’, we don’t mean physical injury – though Industry 4.0 technologies can help combat that, too. Rather, we are referring to the safety of a digital workforce.

Yesterday, we discussed autonomous mining and how we can make the mining industry safer with new technologies. But the autonomous mine will not succeed if antiquated software and poor defences leave it vulnerable to attack.

More security for everyone

These technologies will require better security and systems. That’s where artificial intelligence, blockchain and quantum computing come in. These might sound like confusing, futuristic technologies, but they are already paving our future.

Regulation, though, will be necessary to make sure they are used in a constructive and safe way. This will be integral to the future of industries, like manufacturing and mining, and making sure people can not remotely attack industrial software.

Quantum computing poses a huge threat to autonomous industries. It could, however, have the opposite effect and present a resilient and secure method of protecting ourselves in a connected society.

Blockchain, on the other hand, can provide transparency and visibility into a company’s supply chain – and make everything more secure, permanent and tamper-proof.

Industry 4.0 technologies can combine to make industries safer and more efficient.

Threats for both the consumer and the company

Lack of cybersecurity measures affect both the consumer and the company. Threats such as remote attacks or hackers targeting sensitive and personal information can heavily impact a company’s processes.

Additionally, humans make mistakes. Companies often lose money when people fail to optimise security or make poor future calculations. AIs, or even basic programs, can look into the future and allow for potential complications.

Machines are not infallible either, however. And that’s why it’s necessary that we employ a combination of this technology instead of merely one (like IoT).

Industrial IoT has the potential to be revolutionary. It could make manufacturing easier, more connected and effective. However, it’s not invulnerable to attack. That’s why we have technology like blockchain to make it more secure.

Could blockchain be the answer to making IIoT more secure?

Blockchain has three fundamental attributes: it’s permanent, it’s secure, and it’s tamper-proof.

It’s also very difficult to attack.

A blockchain isn’t like centralised storage. Because it’s decentralised, the information is not in one, easy-to-access place.

This isn’t to say it’s impossible – it’s just very, very hard.

To successfully attack a blockchain, you need to control over half of the network (a 51% attack, a lot of expensive computing power) or somehow steal a private key. Stealing a private key means guessing it – and to do this with modern computing power would take an immense amount of time. The best chance is quantum computing which is currently its very early stages and not, by any means, widespread.

By the time quantum computers are publicly available, blockchain will likely rise up to meet it. This might even result in the creation of a quantum blockchain.

With AI for intelligence, blockchain for security and the IoT for connectivity, one day soon industries could all be decentralised, efficient and as secure as possible.

To learn more about blockchain’s potential in industry, click here.