Safe and Reliable: Is Your Smart Factory Safe?

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  Safe and Reliable: Is Your Smart Factory Safe?

By Jonathan Wilkins, Marketing Director, EU Automation

Alarms, cameras, locks, and fences are often recommended to keep burglars out of their homes. A clear guide to securing your Smart Factory is not so easy to come by. This article describes the security of Smart Factory and which manufacturers should consider when protecting their facility.

In a connected factory, manufacturers have access to a constant flow of data from the production hall, commercial operation and supply. The Internet of Things (IoT) generates a huge amount of data that is collected by machines and components that can be accessed remotely.

Although connectivity brings a set of benefits to a device, it also creates a vulnerability in cybersecurity. Systems are more vulnerable to attackers because of the closer interconnection of information technology (IT) and operating technology (OT). The risk is increased by remote access or access by third parties.

According to Dark Reading magazine, the second-largest cyber attack industry after health care is manufacturing. With high-profile ransomware attacks like WannaCry disrupting big companies like Honda, manufacturers know they need to be vigilant.

In the manufacturing industry, cybercrime is usually a form of data theft, ransomware or data manipulation. Hackers can modify procedures to disrupt production processes, gain access to private patent data, or cause system downtime that can cause serious losses to a business.

Engineering companies must ensure that their operations, data and valuable intellectual property rights (IP) are protected. Businesses need to understand the limits of their own capabilities and systems to develop a comprehensive cyber security strategy.

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For example, legacy devices can be a target for cybercriminals. Old devices should not be connected to the Internet, so cyber security was not a priority in development. Industrial control systems and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) have become targets.

Backing Up Operations

The first step in cybersecurity is to evaluate your digital footprint and understand what data you capture and store. When updating or upgrading your system, the entire footprint needs to be considered. This includes the billing of all personal devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, that may be authorized in your network.

Manufacturing companies must adopt a proactive approach to cybersecurity. This includes a firewall, but also a network monitor. A closer look at what's happening on the network can identify any unusual activity as suspicious, helping you to identify risks more quickly.

Businesses should also consider segmenting their networks and restricting access to the network, if not required. The more connection points there are, the greater the risk, so a segmented network can limit the damage in the event of a data breach.

It's not as easy as securing your home from burglary, but securing your smart factory from cybercriminals is just as important to business safety.

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