On the way to secure remote access in manufacturing

  Towards Secure Remote Access in Manufacturing

By Jonathan Wikins, Marketing Director, EU Automation

Whether you're working from home, checking e-mails, or traveling on business is usually You can access the network of your company remotely. Although easy to implement in many organizations, complexity and security are high barriers for many industrial companies. This article discusses secure remote access and the challenges it poses.

Industry 4.0 gives manufacturers the opportunity to gain detailed insights into production. Based on data from attached devices, asset managers can identify inefficiencies, reduce costs, and minimize downtime. To do this effectively, it is useful to be able to access data and information remotely. However, this can bring challenges to the safety of the operation. Secure Remote Access is defined as the ability of an organization's users to access their non-public computing resources from locations other than the organization's facilities. It offers many advantages, such as: For example, monitoring multiple assets without the need for travel or personnel. Similarly, remote monitoring, maintenance or troubleshooting is possible. According to data collected by experienced support technicians, it is estimated that 60 to 70 percent of machine problems require simple repair, such as: For example, a software upgrade or minor parameter changes – which can be performed remotely.

Remote access reduces costs and time spent on maintenance and troubleshooting and can reduce downtime. For example, using predictive analytics can predict component defects in advance and order a replacement part from a trusted supplier. This streamlines the process for the service technician and immediately reports an error, even if it is not on-site.

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The Challenges of Remote Access

Remote access to industrial control systems, including security, connectivity and complexity, is still very difficult. Traditional remote access includes Virtual Private Networking (VPN) and Remote Desktop Connection (RDC). These technologies are complex, expensive and lack the flexibility and intelligence manufacturers need.

Additional complexity added by traditional technologies can increase security vulnerabilities. Industrial control systems were typically not designed for connection, and using a VPN connects the system to the IT network, increasing the attack surface. It also means that if a hacker can access a point in the system, he can access everything. This has been the case in attacks on the Ukrainian power grid and the US chain Target

To overcome these problems, manufacturers need a secure, flexible and scalable approach to remote machine management. One option that can achieve this is cloud-based access, which uses a remote gateway, a cloud server, and client software to flexibly access devices from a remote location. This allows legacy devices to connect to the cloud for real-time management and analysis.

Most vendors believe that the benefits of remote access outweigh the investment and operational risks. To counter this, companies should put together a security approach to mitigate the additional risks associated with remote access. This often involves the introduction of safety layers, so that in the event of a breakage of a section, the entire control system is not endangered.

When implementing remote access to an industrial control system, manufacturers must weigh all available options. It's critical that your system is as secure as possible to ensure the security of remote access systems, whether the user is away from home, on the road, or on business.

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 On the way to secure remote access in manufacturing

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