• The growing interconnection of machines exposes companies to dangers such as information theft or sabotage
  • The project consortium, composed of 13 companies, research centres and European academic entities, meets today at the head office of the technology centre in Galarreta (Hernani)


The future of the industry is linked to the interconnection of machines and their exchange of information through the internet. This reality has many advantages, but also a few risks: an enormous amount of high-value data is generated and circulates through the network of digital connections between plants, customers and suppliers, comprising a potential target for cyber attacks. The main dangers are information theft or sabotage, which may lead to production or service stoppages.

With the aim of offering companies a solution to this challenge, the European Union has promoted a R&D project called Citadel, in which the Basque technology centre IK4-IKERLAN participates. This initiative, which will last three years and has a total budget of 6 million euro, features the development of new computer tools for the management of cybersecurity in critical infrastructure control systems.

Citadel is developing a comprehensive offer to enhance the IT security of industrial systems and critical infrastructures. One of its main innovations is the fact that it is developing the technology necessary to include in a single hardware platform different functions that are currently dispersed, and which may have different cybersecurity requirements. The main advantage of this system is that defending a single point is easier than doing so in a distributed system.

In addition, this project will apply the concept known as MILS (Multiple Independent Levels of Security), which allows systems to evolve and adapt throughout their lives to protect themselves against new threats.

Citadel’s technology will be tested in the Prague metro system. Adaptive MILS technology will be used to develop a system for interconnection of communications networks with different levels of criticality and security. The objective is to ensure the continual availability and security of communications between all components that make up the system. Pilot cases and voice communications equipment will also be commissioned in a manufacturing plant.

“Cybersecurity, an essential requirement”

“Many companies have yet not become aware of the dangers to which they are exposed when they connect their products or machines to the Internet; however, in the near future, cybersecurity will be an essential requirement in products and processes”, warns the Head of Industrial Cybersecurity of IK4-IKERLAN, David González.

The Citadel consortium, composed of 13 companies, research centres and European academic institutions, meets today at the IK4-IKERLAN headquarters in Galarreta (Hernani) to discuss the next steps to be taken in this initiative.

Success stories in the Basque industry

Industrial cybersecurity is a cross-cutting area, particularly applicable in sectors with critical infrastructures and manufacturing facilities in which electronic controls play a key role.

IK4-IKERLAN works with different Basque companies of very diverse sizes and sectors to help them avoid these risks. These collaborations may encompass from the development of secure devices based on cryptographic chips to the design and implementation of cybersecurity measures in industrial control systems. The centre works alongside companies in sectors such as machine tools, energy, healthcare, and transport.

In this area, it is crucial to highlight the work of the centre with the company Orona. Both entities work to integrate cybersecurity technologies for industrial communications, which enable the advanced lift control and maintenance service process.

This initiative enables progress in the incorporation of information technologies in the lifts, which allow the secure exchange of data and contribute to the improvement of their service through predictive maintenance techniques.

The project is included in Basque Industry 4.0, an ambitious, newly-created programme dependent on the Basque Government.


IK4-IKERLAN is a leading centre for technology transfer and for providing competitive value to companies due, among other things, to the expertise of its researchers. It offers comprehensive solutions by combining different fields of technology. This is possible owing to its high level of specialisation in three main areas: Electronics, information and communication technology (EICT), Energy and power electronics and Advanced manufacturing. It currently has a staff of approximately 290 people.

Project details

Project name: Citadel
Funding organisation: European Union. Horizon 2020 -Research and Innovation Framework Programme
Programme: DS-03-2015
Contract Number: 700665
Duration: 3 years

IK4-IKERLAN participates in the Citadel project, which is developing tools and methodologies to protect industrial systems and critical infrastructures against possible cyber attacks
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