Retrofit legacy systems for IIoT security

Article By : Hubertus Grobbel

Legacy systems and components with USB or SD interfaces can be easily equipped with counterfeit-proof identities.

« Previously: Part 1: Swissbit secures the system with smart SD

One of the obstacles to establishing IIoT security is that older systems and components lack adequate protection. Now legacy systems and components that have USB or SD interfaces can be easily equipped with counterfeit-proof identities and can then be integrated into the existing security solution. Retrofitting continues to be a key issue as the life cycles of security solutions and industrial memory cards are remarkably similar. Similar to memory cards, security algorithms are subject to wear and tear. As such, the length and algorithm requirements continues change to protect against increasingly sophisticated attacks. The ease of substitution makes the combination of storage and security an ideal combination.

Security for mobile use

Systems and installations used in smart factories of the future will no longer have specific operating elements and screens, but will instead be operated, monitored and maintained via mobile devices and tablets. The constant desire for mobilisation and cost reduction ultimately shifts control to mobile devices and thus into low-trust environments beyond a physically protected facility. But what are the security implications for mobile access?

[Swissbit Secure Industrial SD Memory Card cr]
Figure 2: Swissbit boasts its PS-450 SD Memory Card can address security needs in a wide range of applications.

With Swissbit’s solution, security using standard tablets and highly secure user authentication via secure microSD card is no problem. After logging on, users are reliably identified via a PIN which unlocks the secure authentication identifier which can never be copied. This is even possible through a PC via a USB stick. This allows users with the defined required permissions to securely access the relevant systems at any time.


Users who – with good reason – want secure processes such as encryption and two-factor identification in classic IT networks and on the Internet shouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than this in the IIoT.

When it comes to machines, robots or entire industrial installations that largely run autonomously based on sensor data and "make decisions," it must be ensured that these only process or deliver data when the relevant data-transferring systems are uniquely identified.

For this reason such systems need to be equipped with counterfeit-proof identities. This can be provided via flash memory solutions that use crypto chips as TPM. Apart from being highly flexible, they can be retrofitted and an be combined with other functions such as encryption and data protection.

There are many opportunities for such applications, particularly in areas where industrial flash memory cards are already used. In medical equipment the security of patient data can be improved, and manipulation can be avoided during metering. In tracking logistics, industrial terminals can be safeguarded from external attacks, and secure processes can be implemented with relative ease. Flash memory combined with high security provides a truly smart solution.

First published on EE Times Europe

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