Secure M2M communications for Industry 4.0

Secure M2M communications for Industry 4.0

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

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.


In this context, the Fraunhofer Institute for Embedded Systems and Communications Technology (ESK) in Munich will be responsible for the evaluation of SDN and NFV under the aspect to offer better security and usability than currently prevailing technologies. Research partners Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik GmbH and Felss Systems GmbH accompany the APOLI development process, provide test environments for machine-to-machine communications and perform practical remote maintenance tests. Applied Security GmbH (apsec), an expert for secure data exchange and secure authentication will devise a central services platform for such tasks; in addition, the company will develop a secure authentication technique for mobile devices. Industry 4.0 software company Software Factory Gmbh will assume the task of integrating the machines into SDN and NFV based solutions. In addition, Software Factory will provide a platform for Application Lifecycle Management (ALM).

The APOLI project is designed to run until October, 2017 and is funded in part by the state government of Bavaria.

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