One of digital twins’ most pressing problems is that their utility makes them a target for hackers. Digital twins, if left unprotected, could expose security details to hackers, and given the nature of digital twins as a mirror on a physical entity, even expose operational data that could be exploited by cybercriminals. At its most extreme, a cyberattack could put the future of the organisation itself at stake.

Regulatory Trends

Listed below are the key regulatory trends impacting the digital twin’s theme, as identified by GlobalData.

Meeting the cyber threat

Cyber regulation for digital twins is still developing, but it is an area of which both users and vendors must be aware. To be effective, digital twins must be as accurate a representation of a physical system (or selected aspects of that system) as necessary. That mirror creates a cyber risk to the physical systems they represent, offering hackers a potential route to understand and then penetrate them.

Both digital twins users and vendors must comply with regulations such as the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) and the European Union’s (EU) Security of Network and Information Systems (NIS) directive. NERC CIP carries $1m-a-day fines for security compliance violations, and penalties can be levied for non-compliance, regardless of whether an incident has occurred.

Digital twins in shipping

The shipping industry is in the early stages of using digital twins for fault detection and diagnostics in vessels. According to Lloyd’s Register, digital twins will become increasingly important as vessels grow in size, sophistication, range endurance, and operational capabilities.

Lloyd’s Register believes digital twins offer a significant opportunity for marine and offshore operators to improve aspects of their operational performance and maintenance regimes while allowing for greater transparency and repeatability. In September 2020, it awarded one supplier, Furuno Hellas, digital twins certification for an onboard system that collects and monitors data on bridge navigation and communication equipment.

This is an edited extract from the Digital Twins- Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.