Are cloud communication protocols secure?

There’s security and there’s security. While a hacker might not break the encrypted communication directly, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways.


Dear Control Engineering: I was reading the article about networking protocols, and there is a statement that Skype, and by implication, other cloud technologies, are secure. Is this true?

Yes, it is if you are specific about what means exactly. Let’s digress for a moment and consider a historical parallel. Back during WWII, the German armed services used a device called an Enigma machine that encrypted messages sent by radio using Morse code. While the allies were able to intercept the radio traffic, without breaking the code, they were unable to understand the messages. So, there were enormous efforts to find ways to break the process. Those stories are fascinating and you can read them elsewhere, but successes usually came as a result of sloppy radio operators or largely brute force methods to simply try every possible key using early electro-mechanical computers.

Modern encryption is far more complex. The AES (advanced encryption standard) used with most communication on the Internet can employ a 256-bit key which would require 2200 operations to break by brute force. So it isn’t possible to decode the information by intercepting the transmission. That doesn’t mean it is secure necessarily. A determined hacker will simply find another way, and that probably means getting the message by going after one of the people that is sending or receiving. Even if the code is unbreakable, if someone breaks into my computer from outside, he or she can likely see the same information I can. My security depends on how well I protect the information once it is decoded. Using my earlier analogy, it would be like looking over the radio operator’s shoulder and seeing the message in plain text before it’s encoded.

Peter Welander,

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.