The Impact of Edge Computing on the Industrial Internet of Things
Keywords:industrial internet of things, edge computing, critical infrastructure, cybersecurity
The emergence of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has improved the management of industrial operations and processes. IIoT involves collecting and processing data from a vast array of sensors deployed across industrial complexes. This enables the measurement of the efficiency of industrial processes, monitoring the health of machinery, optimisation of operations, and response to real-time events. In its application, IIoT underpins the operation of critical infrastructure in sectors including manufacturing and utilities. Maintaining the availability and resilience of critical infrastructure against internal and external threats is essential to minimise disruptions that could have a debilitating effect on a nation’s economy. Although internal threats can lead to a critical infrastructure’s downtime, external threats through cyberattacks also pose a significant threat. Historical events have demonstrated that the successful disruption of critical infrastructure can lead to the loss of human life, the interruption of necessary economic activities and national security concerns. Therefore, the availability of resilient critical infrastructures is vital to the well-being of a country. In this context, the paper compares the deployment of traditional IIoT to that of edge computing for the storage and processing of data. Traditional IIoT relies on a centralised server for data storage and processing, which is insufficient as IIoT environments cannot tolerate delays in responding to real-time events. Conversely, edge computing allows for data processing at the edge, closer to the data source, which plays a crucial role in enabling IIoT devices to respond to real-time events by reducing decision-making latency. Moreover, the decentralised nature of edge computing reduces the reliance on a centralised server by only sending required data to the cloud for further processing. Although edge computing enhances IIoT deployments, a notable concern is a resultant increase in the attack surface of IIoT environments, which consequently restricts its implementation. Exploratory research is conducted to explore the integration of edge computing into IIoT environments with a focus on improving the management and operation of critical infrastructures. A review of the current literature is performed to identify and discuss security concerns prevalent in edge computing-enabled IIoT environments and proposed mitigation strategies.
Copyright (c) 2023 Nkata Sekonya, Siphesihle Sithungu
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