Industry 4.0 and the Role of Identity and Access Management

Industry 4.0: One of the hotter topics in industrial computing, refers to the creation and usage of “smart factories.” The term Industry 4.0 was initially coined in 2011 as part of the German government’s strategy around the digitization of the manufacturing industry. As a concept it’s evolved somewhat, having also grown to include some of the principles around Internet of Things (IoT), cyber-physical systems, and cloud computing.

In other words, creating a factory with Internet-connected machines that streamline the manufacturing process and automate the workforce, increasing production and/or reducing costs.

The 4 design principles that must be met for a factory to be considered “Industry 4.0” include:*

  • Interoperability — machines, devices, sensors and people that connect and communicate with one another via IoT.
  • Information transparency — the systems create a virtual copy of the physical world through sensor data.
  • Technical assistance — both the ability of the systems to support humans in making decisions and solving problems and the ability to assist humans with tasks that are too difficult or unsafe.
  • Decentralized decision-making — the ability of cyber-physical systems to make simple decisions on their own and become as autonomous as possible.

Being an avid Terminator and Maximum Overdrive fan in my youth, fears of Skynet (or ATMs that insult people – link slightly NSFW) come to mind. Protecting these smart factories is obviously a key concern, and securing these systems has been outlined as one of the key challenges facing the extended growth of this trend. The consequences of a security breach (or smart systems with too much access) could be catastrophic!

How does Identity and Access Management play a role?

Unsurprisingly (as this is the ForgeRock blog) we’re going to discuss identity and access management. It’s our raison-d’etre after all! We work with a number of IoT companies, both in the manufacturing as well as consumer space, so we know how IAM helps in the Industry 4.0 space. The key benefit is…Trust.

Trust begins with identity. In order to ensure the integrity of a smart factory, it is crucial to securely establish and maintain the full lifecycle of systems and machines themselves, and the data they generate. These identities and their associated credentials must be trusted and useable across numerous connected ecosystems, between different devices, from devices to humans, and from devices to all varieties of cloud services. The data from these devices must be kept confidential and secure, and the system needs to be able to verify where it came from and control what systems can access it.

Enter ForgeRock Edge Security:

We recently announced an early access program (EAP) for ForgeRock Edge Security. This innovative approach to securing the internet of things uses identity principles to provide security for connected devices deployed “on the edge”, in places like smart factories and other industrial IoT (IIoT) use cases. It ensures the integrity of machines and systems and their communication and enables secure translation between protocols commonly used with IoT edge devices and standard web protocols, backed by the rich policy engine in the ForgeRock Identity Platform. ForgeRock Edge Security adds a rock-solid security layer to IoT hardware used at the edge, including leveraging highly secure on-chip Trusted Execution Environments (TEE) if available, If you’d like more information, sign up for for our EAP and we will keep you posted on the development of this new IoT security solution.


Our new Edge Security product will help organizations looking to build smart factories and other IIoT initiatives and to ensure they are able to do so with a strong degree of trust. Furthermore, and without a hint of hyperbole, the ForgeRock Identity Platform will save the world from the rise of the machines.

You’re welcome.

*Per Wikipedia