Costain joins i-Trace demonstrator to secure IoT

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A Cisco-led consortium of partners is to demonstrate how artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain can be used to secure Internet of Things (IoT) networks through i-Trace, a part-government funded, co-innovation project that's looking to drive the digital transformation of national infrastructure.

Costain, a smart infrastructure company, has joined the i-Trace consortium to conduct real-world cybersecurity trials in construction machine telematics and connected sites sensing and monitoring.

“The IoT is central to the fourth industrial revolution, which is seeing infrastructure delivery and operations become more data-driven, using insights gathered from connected devices, sensors, and telematics to inform long and short-term decision-making,” said Tim Embley, Research and Innovation Director at Costain. “IoT security is a critical issue as cyber-attacks increase in both frequency and potency. There is a world of unseen potential when it comes to AI and blockchain in terms of increasing the resilience of IoT networks and better securing the integrity of IoT data that is so critical to driving safer, faster, greener and more efficient delivery and operations of infrastructure.”

The UK’s National Cyber Security Strategy has highlighted that the application of IoT in critical systems has introduced a host of new vulnerabilities that could have a severe impact on societal, health, welfare and business models. This is due to factors such as the low-cost and low-power requirements of many IoT devices, as well as their limited storage and processing capabilities, all of which mean they are inherently difficult to secure.

Using real-world data from live Costain project sites, the project will look to demonstrate how the i-Trace solution brings together two complementary technologies to secure critical data.

Firstly, using machine learning systems to detect security threats on IoT devices via the network. Secondly, using distributed ledger technology (DLT) to guarantee that the data generated by these IoT devices is tamperproof and immutable, wherever it is in the network. These technologies will be deployed across Costain’s networks to secure M2M telematics, connected IoT sensors and monitoring equipment.

The project will tap into the capabilities of leading technology, security, and academic partners to prove the commercial viability of using these emerging technologies to secure the integrity of IoT data.

The consortium is comprised of experts from Cisco, BT, Senseon, the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at the University of Warwick, and Costain. i-Trace is part-government funded through Innovate UK and the UKRI’s Strategic Priorities Fund.

“Securing IoT networks is a considerable challenge due to its scale and complexity, which has prevented organisations from maximising its use and taking their deployments to the next level,” added Peter Shearman, Head of Innovation, Emerging Technology and Incubation at Cisco UK and Ireland. “Our aim is to successfully trial a solution that offers end-to-end security of real-world IoT networks, which delivers the immutability and scalability required by commercial deployments, as well as being manageable and cost-effective. This has the potential to pave the way for IoT innovation that has never been seen before in the construction industry and beyond.”