Securing industrial data in Microsoft Azure

Securing industrial data in Microsoft Azure

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Xavier Mesrobian explains how companies can harness industrial data safely with Skkynet’s tunnel/mirroring software

Guest contributor |

There is, without doubt, value in industrial process data. More companies are waking up to that reality. C-level executives and upper management are keen to extract that value using analytical tools and techniques provided by their IT departments.

However, security is always an issue. Best practices dictate a zero-trust approach, and operation and IT networks must be completely isolated from each other. This can best be accomplished using a demilitarised zone (DMZ), a physical or logical subnet that separates a local area network from other untrusted networks. Only known and authenticated actors can enter the system at all times. Plus, firewalls protect both the operations and IT sides, configured to allow only outbound connections to the DMZ. This ensures that only the correct data passes between networks.

To enable a secure, robust connection across a DMZ, and support real-time bidirectional communication, Skkynet recommends secure tunnel/mirroring. Well-designed tunnel/mirror software can seamlessly aggregate a variety of industrial protocols and send data securely across a DMZ to clients running in IT or the cloud. There is no need for virtual private networks and all inbound firewall ports can stay closed.

Anyone familiar with industrial protocols might ask why not just use one of those protocols to make the connection to IT? Put simply, they weren’t designed for the task. Conceived and created before 2006, they are best used for in-plant connections or data collection at the edge and other simple topologies. More sophisticated communication tasks typically require integrating different industrial protocols and extracting their data, while at the same time keeping the plant network completely isolated.

Skkynet’s secure-by-design tunnel/mirroring solutions – Cogent DataHub that runs on Microsoft Windows and Cogent DataHub for Microsoft Azure – provide secure access to industrial data over a wide range of network architectures. They integrate data from the most commonly-used industrial protocols into a unified namespace and pass that data securely to corporate IT networks, Azure IoT Hub and multiple tools in the Azure Marketplace. This valuable data can then power artificial intelligence engines and analytics, or meet other needs of the enterprise.

Learn more about Cogent DataHub

Xavier Mesrobian is vice president of sales and marketing at Skkynet Cloud Systems

This article was originally published in the Spring 2024 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.  

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