Attribute-based Approaches for Secure Data Sharing in Industry

Abstract: The Industry 4.0 revolution relies heavily on data to generate value, innovation, new services, and optimize current processes [1]. Technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, digital twins, and much more depend directly on data to bring value and innovation to both discrete manufacturing and process industries. The origin of data may vary from sensor data to financial statements and even strictly confidential user or business data. In data-driven ecosystems, collaboration between different actors is often needed to provide services such as analytics, logistics, predictive maintenance, process improvement, and more. Data therefore cannot be considered a corporate internal asset only. Hence, data needs to be shared among organizations in a data-driven ecosystem for it to be used as a strategic resource for creating desired values, innovations, or process improvements [2]. When sharing business critical and sensitive data, the access to the data needs to be accurately controlled to prevent leakage to authorized users and organizations. Access control is a mechanism to control actions of users over objects, e.g., to read, write, and delete files, accessing data, writing over registers, and so on. This thesis studies one of the latest access control mechanisms in Attribute Based Access Control (ABAC) for industrial data sharing. ABAC emerges as an evolution of the commonly industry-wide used Role-based Access Control. ABAC presents the idea of attributes to create access policies, rather than manually assigned roles or ownerships, enabling for expressive fine-granular access control policies. Furthermore, this thesis presents approaches to implement ABAC into industrial IoT data sharing applications, with special focus on the manageability and granularity of the attributes and policies.  The thesis also studies the implications of outsourced data storage on third party cloud servers over access control for data sharing and explores how to integrate cryptographic techniques and paradigms into data access control. In particular, the combination of ABAC and Attribute-Based Encryption (ABE) is investigated to protect privacy over not-fully trusted domains. In this, important research gaps are identified. 

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