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Trend Report: Cyber Security The Challenge of Ensuring System Security

| Editor: Alexander Stark

The new and exciting world of IoT and digitization also has its downsides. For instance, inadequate network security allows unauthorized access to confidential and personal information by third parties. A trend report published by Achema takes a closer look at the opportunities and risks of cyberspace.

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The chemical industry is reacting to the changes which are taking place. Given the increasing IT security threats, IT teams are looking at whether and to what extent the integrity of PCT safety systems could be at risk.
The chemical industry is reacting to the changes which are taking place. Given the increasing IT security threats, IT teams are looking at whether and to what extent the integrity of PCT safety systems could be at risk.
(Source: Pixabay / CC0)

Frankfurt/Germany — Do you remember Tom Cruise floating across the holographic screens in Minority Report, or the replicator on the Starship Enterprise which could serve up more flavors of coffee than a Viennese café? Moviegoers are not the only ones who dream about a future where machines and digital applications make life easier. Scientists are already hard at work making this future a reality.

The first steps have already been taken. E-mail, the Internet and GPS are things which we now take for granted. The smartphone has only been around for ten years, but it is hard to imagine life without it. The world is now a faster place. Information can be sent and received in real time. High-speed communications are available anytime, anywhere around the world.

However, it is also become apparent that these developments entail certain threads. What is happening on open Wifi hotspots at train stations and in Facebook's privacy settings is applicable to industry as well where optimal interaction between humans, machines and IT systems is receiving greater emphasis. There is also an increasing need for individualized products. To be ready for the impending changes, companies have to take a fresh look at their production and logistics flows and restructure their operations. The magic word here is Industry 4.0.

Cyber-Physical Production Systems

In Industry 4.0 "Cyber-physical production systems" will control and monitor new production processes. The term refers to tight integration between real (physical) process flows and information processing. Global information networks with always-available connectivity provide the basis. The physical processes consist of embedded systems which exist in a technical environment. The virtual processes are data, information and services which can be made available on the information network.

Cyber-physical production systems have the advantage that they can be adapted quickly and efficiently as requirements change. In a world which can change in a matter of seconds, this capability is highly important, particularly in the process industry. Sensor-based detection of faulty process flows enables self-optimization and configuration of products, machines and systems, and it also ensures system safety and security.

The BMBF (Ministry of Research and Education) Industry 4.0 project envisages machines which communicate with each other, inform each other about faults in the production process, identify material shortages and reorder materials. Without that, there is no intelligent factory. Internet-driven process digitalization leads to convergence of the real and virtual worlds, creating the Internet of Things. It establishes interconnectivity between the individual process steps and provides external access to the production systems.

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