By Milica D. Djekic
When we say a smart technology many will correlate so with the Smartphone. The fact is such a device is capable to take advantage over the mobile internet as well as rely on the surrounding access points using the Wi-Fi web. The rest – phone calls, text and multimedia messages as well as GPS will operate applying the well-known cellular telecommunication network capacities. On the other hand, there are the industrial control systems that can be open-loop, closed-loop and with the web connectivity, but even they will not fully rely on the TCP/IP communication channel. The interconnected objects will exchange information on many different ways and even if the controllers are connected to the internet they will not completely talk to their plant through the web connectivity being their command signal. Sometimes the plant will cope with the web connection, but at this stage we are not fully dependable on the internet as a critical infrastructure. In other words, it will take time to make a complete shift from the current solutions to the web-based ones as that would mean we are using advantages of the 4th industrial revolution to full. To clarify this – it’s still needed to put more effort in order to make a transition from the partially internetized world to fully web-related environment perhaps if something like so is even needed in times that come.
On the web, the information travel in packets and at this degree of our technological development it is uneasy to imagine that some power drive being a part of the control system can be transformed into web data. That sort of energy is analog by its nature and the internet protocol still serves as the communication carrier, not for the power capacities. Also, it’s possible to design the control system that will use a digital signal in order to trigger for running some energetic process within the controlled plant. Apparently, the TCP/IP is only a communication channel and at this stage we cannot say it is capable to be applied in any control system, so far. In the best possible fashion, the controller can be connected to the web through some IP address sending its command signal to the plant that needs to obey any command either being analog or digital by its character. If we go several steps back we will recognize yet used on-off control systems that can do a good job, but not offer anyhow sophisticated technical solution management. The typical open-loop system is given in the Figure 1 as follows.
Figure 1. Open-loop control system block diagram
As illustrated in the Figure 1, any control system has a controller and plant that are governed with the command signal. The entire system receives some input and sends out some output value or a set of the variables. The process in the object can be distracted with some disturbance signal that under industrial conditions can be vibrations, humidity, oscillations or anything else that must be compensated in order to avoid the error-related behavior of the entire control system. On the other hand, if we invoke a feedback branch to open-loop control putting some sensors there we will get an intelligent control system given in the Figure 2 as follows.
Figure 2. Intelligent control system block diagram
The graphical representation above provides a full insight into a typical block diagram of the intelligent control system. That solution can offer much more sophisticated control as it receives an outcome of the measuring device being made for the output value and compares it with the input trying to govern a controller to make an accurate adjustment. Finally, we will introduce a smart control system which controller is connected to the internet through the assigned IP address and such a model is convenient for communication between devices using the web channel. The illustration is given in the Figure 3 as follows.
Figure 3. Smart control system block diagram
At the end, everyone today talks about smart technologies and the purpose of this effort is to illustrate how those systems work and how they can be correlated with cyber security at least in a quite simple and fundamental manner.
About the Author
Milica D. Djekic is an Independent Researcher from Subotica, the Republic of Serbia (Europe). She received her engineering background from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, University of Belgrade. She writes for some domestic and overseas presses and she is also the author of the book “The Internet of Things: Concept, Applications and Security” and “The Insider’s Threats: Operational, Tactical and Strategic Perspective” being published in 2017 and 2021 respectively with the Lambert Academic Publishing. Milica is also a speaker with the BrightTALK expert’s channel and Cyber Security Summit Europe being held in 2016 as well as CyberCentral Summit 2019 being one of the most exclusive cyber defense events in Europe. She is the member of an ASIS International since 2017 and contributor to the Cyber Defense Magazine since 2014 and the Australian Cyber Security Magazine since 2018. Milica’s research efforts are recognized with Computer Emergency Response Team for the European Union (CERT-EU), Censys Press, BU-CERT UK and EASA European Centre for Cybersecurity in Aviation (ECCSA). Her fields of interests are cyber defense, technology and business. Milica is a person with disability.