The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the nation's top industry regulator, will soon roll out a guideline on how to safeguard the cybersecurity of the industrial internet, a frontier where countries around the world are scrambling to establish a beachhead, people familiar with the matter said.
The guideline is part of a broader package of policies the ministry will unveil to further promote the development of the industrial internet, a key way to boost the marriage between cutting-edge digital technologies and the manufacturing sector.
The industrial internet security guideline will outline a classification system of different levels of group companies based on their vulnerability to cyberattacks, people who are involved in drafting the policy said, declining to be named as they are not authorized to speak to the media.
A three-layer technical system which involves national, provincial and enterprise platforms will come into existence to help better tackle security risks associated with the industrial internet, they said.
A policy on promoting network construction for the industrial internet will also be released by the ministry in the following months, the sources added. The industrial internet refers to a network of combined, advanced machines with internet-connected sensors and big-data analytics, which is of great significance to boosting the productivity, efficiency and reliability of industrial production.
Data from the ministry show that China has cultivated around 50 industrial internet platforms that have regional influence, with over 100,000 units of industrial equipment connected to the internet.
The progress has been made since the State Council unveiled a guideline last November that aims to build three to five industrial internet platforms, which will reach international standards by 2025, and lead the world in key areas by 2035.
Li Haihua, an expert at the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, said it is of vital importance to promote the industrial internet, which is a key element in bringing new vitality to China's sprawling manufacturing sector.
"The industrial internet is now being used in at least 12 sectors in China, including rubber and food. But more attention needs to be paid to cybersecurity issues," Li added.
Data from China Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team show that over 90 percent of the more than 3,000 industrial control systems connected to the internet have security loopholes.
Qi Xiangdong, chairman of Chinese internet security company 360 Enterprise Security Group, said compared with consumer internet applications such as e-commerce, the industrial internet is far more complex and more vulnerable to sophisticated cyberattacks.
"Once the industrial internet is attacked by 'bad guys', it not only compromises information, it also harms the whole enterprise, or the entire industry," Qi said.