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The days when industrial and production companies only had to worry about security at their actual sites are long gone. In the era of Industry 4.0, companies are increasingly managing interwoven physical components and cybersystems in a value chain involving continuous sharing of data with external elements of this chain. The range of systems from a variety of manufacturers makes this an extremely complex matter. To demonstrate how disparate systems can communicate and nevertheless still share data about existing products and technologies securely, the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) - in conjunction with GMO GlobalSign Inc. and the Industry 4.0 (I4.0) platform - took the opportunity at HANNOVER MESSE in spring 2017 to initiate the simulation of a heterogeneous security environment in which products from over twenty different companies can communicate with each other.

The solution to this data sharing problem is a public key infrastructure (PKI), a method that has already proven itself in other applications over many years. The provision of PKI-based identities in the form of X.509 certificates for the various components in the value chain ensures that the data always comes from an authorized and therefore trustworthy source. The encrypted data is also protected from being altered in transit, thus ensuring lasting protection for a company’s valuable intellectual property.