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COVID, IoT, and Cybersecurity

As the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be winding down in much of the world, companies are recognizing a new threat. The war in Ukraine has potential for massive cyber attacks in retaliation for sanctions and companies are expected to be targeted along with governments and critical infrastructure. Combined with stricter compliance requirements by governments to help secure cyber assets, the market for MSS (managed security services) is growing stronger.

More and more companies are falling victim to data theft, espionage, or asset sabotage. Hackers are becoming increasingly aggressive in their approach, deliberately exploiting vulnerabilities to gain access to systems. Many companies don’t have the expertise or time to raise their level of protection. This is where MSS providers can help deliver an end-to-end solution tailored to the exact threat situation.

From NTT‘s perspective, four themes will drive the MSS market in the coming months:

AI (artificial intelligence), for example, is now a part of hackers’ repertoire. What’s more, the increased use of home offices has opened numerous new avenues for infiltrating the corporate network. At the same time, companies are facing numerous compliance challenges and industry-specific security standards. Then, with economic challenges causing budgets for IT security to be cut after two years of pandemic, companies find themselves at a loss.

If a company has fallen victim to a cyberattack and needs to take appropriate countermeasures, DFIR (digital forensics & incident response) is the tool of choice. Using artifacts—traces left by attackers on a compromised system—experts can identify the attack vectors and determine the extent of the damage. Countermeasures are then initiated, and protective mechanisms are built to prevent attacks via the same gateway in the future.

Companies that are not mature enough to defend against and respond to cyber-attacks or lack awareness of the numerous threats will not be offered a contract. It therefore makes sense to combine this with a DFIR retainer: in addition to defense, proactive measures are also taken here to sustainably increase a company’s cyber resilience. Onboarding at the beginning of the contract gives the provider an overview of the technical conditions of the customer infrastructure and evaluates the protocol and security mechanisms. Based on this and as a “lesson learned” after an incident, improvement measures are implemented.

Various technical approaches to isolate and protect a company’s infrastructure and, with the expansion of IoT devices, ensure networks are secured are being proposed. NTT, for example, is collaborating with Schneider Electric to deliver P5G (private 5G) – an on-premise private network solution and digitization enabling platform that can dramatically advance digital solutions in the manufacturing environment.

In 2022, the P5G platform will be piloted at Schneider’s Lexington Smart Factory, the first of Schneider Electric’s U.S. plants to become a Smart Factory showcase site leveraging IoT connectivity, Edge analytics, and predictive analytics to drive energy efficiency and further sustainability goals. The P5G will power key use-cases that solve challenges around equipment availability, machine performance, and product quality.

For example, the companies will integrate ‘machine vision’ capabilities (industrial cameras with specialized optics) into existing factory and warehouse automation systems, that identify faults as well as wear and tear for incident root cause in near realtime.

Through co-innovation, the solution will provide a model for operational integrity management that scales across a broad footprint of global factory environments to power Industry 4.0, enabling network edge platforms.

Additional P5G use-cases to be addressed including unfettered connectivity for improved management of AGV (automated guided vehicles) and devices across a factory that yields more efficient and accurate workflow systems. In addition, machine vision application to detect anomalies in machine performance to ensure high performance, availability, and quality of product and augmented reality solutions that enable remote worker support for enhanced equipment maintenance and management and worker experience.

To further the partnership, NTT will deploy its Private 5G services and data centers with Schneider Electric technologies, including a prefabricated data center to integrate and test its edge offerings using EcoStruxure solutions. This is expected to be 100% operative in Schneider Electric factories during the 2nd QTR 2022.

Schneider Electric’s prefabricated data centers help cloud and service providers scale quickly and efficiently while also meeting their sustainability goals. In addition to a 60% reduction in up time compared to traditional data centers, these prefabricated modular data centers are manufactured with sustainable construction methods and features that boost reliability, optimize operational energy savings, and leave a smaller environmental footprint.

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