IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Magazine - July 2019 - 33

risk at an action or component level. These individual risks
software running elsewhere on the network, such as on a
can then be incorporated in assessments by a variety of
mobile phone, a general-purpose computing device (e.g., a
approaches to provide a systems-level view [9], [10]. While
laptop), a machine on the public Internet (e.g., in 'the cloud'),
determining how people judge a risk is more complex [11],
or a combination of these. IoT devices often function autona common method for assigning quantitative values to risk
omously, without requiring human intervention" [1].
is as follows:
The International Telecommunication Union refers to
the IoT as "a global infrastructure for the information
society, enabling advanced services by interconnecting
Risk = Likelihood # Impact.
(physical and virtual) things based on existing and evolving interoperable information and communication techIn this simple formulation, risk can be thought of as the
nologies" [6].
impact of an unwanted event multiplied by the probability
A definition of the Industrial IoT (IIoT ) is offered by
(or likelihood) of that event occurring. It is common to repNational Instruments: "IIoT can be characterized as a
resent this impact as a loss or a cost (e.g., financial
vast number of connected industrial systems that are
impact), which can then be used to assess and compare
communicating and coordinating their data analytics and
events. These individual risks can be aggregated to create
actions to improve industrial persystem-level views of risk across a
formance and benefit society as a
system, and therefore can be used
whole. Industrial systems that
to assess when changes are made
interface the digital world to the
to the system (such as the addition
We take risks many
physical world through sensors
of IoT devices to a utility network).
times a day, often
and actuators that solve complex
While more complex risk formulaself-informed about
control problems are commonly
tions exist, this description and apknown as cyberphysical systems.
proach capture useful input for
the potential impact
These systems are being comthis discussion.
and probability of
bined with big analog data soluUncertainty is inherent to risk.
t ion s to ga i n deeper i n sig ht
In
estimating
risk, we may use a
the event.
through data and analytics" [7].
best estimate of likelihood and
The utility-based IoT can be
impact. But there can be uncerthought of as the use of the IoT for
tainty about both likelihood and
control and communications that involve the use of senimpact and as a result they may ultimately differ from our
sors, actuators, monitors, and networks to improve operabest estimates. This uncertainty translates into a potentional efficiency, safety, and reliability, and address other
tial range of risk. Higher uncertainty means a larger
operational concerns. Each definition is correct but conrange of potential values. By minimizing uncertainty, one
siders the IoT concept from differing perspectives (setcan better understand risk. However, and not surprisingtings/functions), which again is a reminder that there are
ly, the process of reducing uncertainty can be costly and
many types of IoT to consider, ranging from cheap and disinvolve a great deal of measurement, planning, engineerposable consumer goods to costly and critical industrial
ing, and testing. Higher uncertainty as it relates to softcontrol systems.
ware can stem from a range of factors, such as poorly
written code, improper design assumptions, poorly
defined requirements, and other unknown factors. With
Risk and Uncertainty
proper design, implementation, and testing, unwanted
Risk can informally be defined as an exposure to the posoutcomes can be avoided, and uncertainty can be
sibility of an undesirable event. We take risks many times a
reduced but not eliminated.
day, often self-informed about the potential impact and
probability of the event. For example, we cross streets
assuming that the approaching cars will not accelerate,
Reliability and Resilience
but we do this with uncertainty, since we cannot entirely
Reliability, from an engineering perspective, can be
anticipate drivers' actions. The risk of being hit by a car
defined as a system properly operating over a specified
that is far off is logically lower than being hit by one that is
period. For a utility, this is delivering a service, like elecclose by and approaching. We take the risk because we
tricity, to meet customer demands over time. It is typical
need to cross the street, and we assess the likelihood of
to measure failures in reliability by interruptions. For
being hit as acceptably low. The U.S. Department of Homeexample, IEEE Standard 1366 provides an interruption
land Security defines risk as the potential for an unwanted
index used to describe a power company's reliability [9].
outcome resulting from an incident, event, or occurrence,
Software bugs (poorly written code) have repeatedly
as determined by its likelihood and the associated conseundermined the operational reliability of utilities. For
quences [8]. The "Trends in IoT Security" section in this
example, the well-known and well-documented blackout
article takes a slightly deeper dive into how to determine
in 2003, which affected more than 55 million people in
Ju ly 2019

IEEE SYSTEMS, MAN, & CYBERNETICS MAGAZINE

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IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Magazine - July 2019

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