Security Is Key To The Success Of Industry 4.0
Manufacturing is a highly competitive industry. The continuous need to outperform competitors is to such a great degree that it is imperative for manufacturing organizations to protect their intellectual property (IP) . Because if the security of their proprietary data is ever compromised, then their competitive advantage is jeopardized as well. And we’ve seen it happen too many times; compromised data leaves the potential for someone with malicious intent to cause harm, in terms of safety and financial risk.
Overall, manufacturers need to raise the bar when it comes to security and in order to reap the full benefits of Industry 4.0, business leaders must support their IT teams both culturally and financially to help them secure their networks. Let’s take a look at what this type top-level support entails.
What should manufacturers ask of their technology vendors?
As manufacturers engage in digital transformation, their internal IT teams need to form important partnerships with technology vendors. Before deciding which Industry 4.0 supplier to work with, it is vital for manufacturers to carry out rigorous checks of each vendor’s security credentials.
In order to protect critical production data, manufacturers should ensure technology vendors implement end-to-end encryption with strong encryption keys along the entire value chain. It is essential to check that a vendor’s encryption is up to the appropriate level of standards and spans from the cloud to edge computing. Bad actors can track the vulnerability of data throughout the network and low-bit encryption can be cracked easily.
Internet of Things (IoT) devices should also be segregated from the main network to ensure that data transmitted over IoT devices does not interfere with other traffic on the factory’s network. Larger networks are exposed to more vulnerabilities, so separating IoT devices guarantees that nothing on the wider network can interfere with the data collected on those devices.
A serious security compromise can stem from the smallest of issues. For example, many manufacturers run older Windows computers without up-to-date security. By using these older machines, they are essentially throwing open the door to hackers who want to access the enterprise network.
It is also essential to check how vendors conduct their security updates and patches, because required updates are inevitable. Manufacturers need to ask their vendor what the process is for finding and fixing vulnerabilities, and how they communicate those essential updates to users.
Should manufacturers use the cloud or local servers?
There is often a perception among manufacturers that cloud computing is less secure than managing data on-site. The reality is that the opposite is true. Network security is closely related to physical access. After all, in an on-site server room, anyone could gain access , pop in a USB stick, and steal sensitive information. Conversely, cloud vendors store data in locations locked down with security guards and numerous physical barriers between any would-be hacker and the target server.
Additionally, the cloud offers more network resilience. Businesses that rely on on-premise servers face exposure and operational risk during an act of force majeure, such as a fire or natural disaster. With the cloud, that risk is spread over multiple secure locations, significantly reducing the chance of disruption.
It’s time to build a security-first culture in manufacturing
Security is an ongoing concern; there will always be new vulnerabilities. Many of the biggest hacks – such as the Petya malware virus that first appeared in 2016 – targeted old Windows technology, which is why it is key to ensure the software is always up to date.
Phishing is also a major threat. To combat it, organizations need to train their staff how to identify phishing emails, and adopt two-factor or multi-factor authentication across the company. My recommendation is that manufacturers do not store or reuse passwords haphazardly, but instead use password management software that securely stores and generates strong, unique passwords.
Manufacturers should review their IT security regularly and make sure their security policy is updated to mitigate the latest threats. When in doubt, defer to your IT solutions provider, who are subject-matter experts on data protection.
While the management of security usually falls to IT, it is becoming a much higher priority across manufacturing organizations, extending up to the C-Suite, due in part to the increasing risk breaches pose to businesses. CEOs and other executive officers should pay close attention and support security best practices across the enterprise.