Industrial Switches: Mitigating Security Risks in Industrial Artificial Intelligence Systems

In this article:

  1. What is artificial intelligence?
  2. AI in Industrial Markets for Business Applications
  3. Why is artificial intelligence vulnerable?
  4. The role of Industrial Ethernet Switches

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence, commonly referred to as AI, is a branch of computer science that aims to instil software with the ability to analyse its environment, make decisions, and perform tasks that would ordinarily require human intelligence. These tasks may range from recognizing speech, to learning, planning, problem-solving, perception, and even the ability to manipulate objects. AI is not a single entity, but rather a broad term that includes different subfields. These subfields range from machine learning and neural networks to robotics and natural language processing.

AI in Industrial Markets for Business Applications

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been applied in various fields with remarkable success. Here are some of the notable applications:

Healthcare: AI assists in diagnostics, drug discovery, and patient care. Telehealth platforms and robotic surgery are some examples where AI plays a pivotal role.

Transportation: Autonomous vehicles leverage AI for navigation, collision avoidance, and route optimization.

Retail: AI is used for personalized recommendations, inventory management, and predictive analytics for sales.

Finance: AI is instrumental in fraud detection, algorithmic trading, and customer service through chatbots.

Entertainment: AI is employed in content recommendation, game development, and computer-generated imaging (CGI).

Agriculture: AI aids in crop and soil monitoring, predictive analysis for weather patterns, and automated irrigation systems.

Cybersecurity: AI helps identify and respond to threats and attacks in real-time. It’s an integral part of modern cybersecurity arrangements.

The applications of AI are countless and continue to expand.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a powerful tool that cuts both ways. On one hand, it unlocks endless possibilities for enhancing human intelligence, problem-solving, and optimizing industrial processes. On the other hand, it unveils new cyber threats, leaving small businesses and users more vulnerable than ever before. In this article, we will delve into the security risks posed to industrial AI systems, with a specific focus on the crucial role played by industrial ethernet switches in preventing attacks on artificial intelligence technology.

Why is artificial intelligence vulnerable?

AI vulnerability arises from the increasing number of IoT devices worldwide connecting to networks. These devices collect, analyse, store, and leverage big data alongside artificial and artificial general intelligence. This expanding attack surface provides hackers with more opportunities to exploit. Each deployed sensor, actuator, edge computer, industrial switch, and server becomes a potential network gateway.

AI systems can be easily attacked and controlled due to their learning process. By identifying patterns in historical data using machine learning and deep learning algorithms, AI systems emulate human decision-making. With sufficient data, these systems can outperform humans in various tasks. For example, an AI system can analyse images of components used in product assembly, learning patterns such as shape, markings, weight, depth, colour, and size. This deep learning improves product quality, throughput, and reduces waste compared to manual labour.

However, hackers can manipulate image datasets to deceive weak AI tools and deep learning systems. Altering a few pixels can lead the machine to reject good parts and install non-compliant ones, causing chaos on an automated assembly line. Similarly, an AI-powered forklift taught to incorrectly recognize objects may crash into storage racks or employees. Maliciously training an AI video surveillance system can result in misclassified events, allowing true dangers to go undetected. These industrial AI hacks involve data manipulation, altering decision-making processes, injecting malicious commands, or gaining total control over the system.

It’s important to note that these AI attacks don’t necessarily result from mistakes made by data scientists developing the deep learning software. Rather, computer science algorithms generalize information from training data, making them vulnerable to corruption. If the training data is compromised, the output values of supervised machine learning systems can be corrupted as well.

The role of Industrial Ethernet Switches

Industrial Ethernet switches play a vital role in AI and data analytics. They act as central stations for connected devices, enabling seamless communication between them. Industrial PoE switches provide up to 100W of power to various devices like IP cameras, LED lighting, wireless access points, and remote IoT sensors that measure temperature, humidity, pressure, moisture, and other data shared within the network. The data collected by industrial switches is used in artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. Additionally, high-speed, low-latency industrial Gigabit switches are increasingly being adopted in distributed AI applications, sometimes even replacing InfiniBand switches, which have long been the preferred network interconnection technology for GPU servers.

However, it is often overlooked that industrial switches are vulnerable to cyber-attacks, making them potential gateways for hackers. The security of industrial switch infrastructure is of utmost importance. Without proper protection, a network switch can be exploited by attackers for unauthorized access, manipulation of connected devices, and data theft. To mitigate these risks, it is essential to consider the resilience of industrial switches.

Managed industrial switches generally offer better security than unmanaged ones. At Assured Systems, we supply a range of industrial ethernet switches with prioritized security by incorporating several features. These include port security to prevent unauthorized devices from forwarding packets, access control lists (ACLs) for better traffic control and monitoring, 802.1X authentication to ensure device authentication before network access, VLANs to isolate sensitive data, and SNMP for authenticated and encrypted interactions. It is also advisable to disable all ports initially and enable them only when necessary. Additionally, physically securing Ethernet switches in closets or cabinets can prevent unauthorized tampering.

By prioritizing the security and resilience of industrial switches, companies can safeguard their AI-enabled industrial networks from potential threats and ensure uninterrupted operations.

To summarise, as industries continue to embrace AI-driven technologies, the implementation of secure industrial ethernet switches becomes imperative to protect critical infrastructure and valuable data from ever-evolving cyber threats. Industrial switches facilitate secure communication between AI-enabled devices, such as AI-powered robots and other intelligent systems and sensors yet can serve as a gateway to your network if not properly safeguarded. To learn how your organization can leverage the benefits of AI without compromising on security, contact our Technical Team at Assured Systems on 01785 879 050. Our knowledgeable staff can provide you with the right industrial switch for your application needs and offer reliable support throughout the course of your deployment.

Here to Help

Tell Us About Your Project

We're embedded computer engineers, if you have a project and need advice we can help.