Cyber Security and Manufacturing: Staying Safe in the Modern Age

With the advent of manufacturing automation and the Industrial Internet of Things (IiOT), the industrial business sector is becoming increasingly connected in cyber space. While this enables your manufacturing company to accomplish tasks never before possible, it also puts you and your expensive machinery at an increased risk for cyber attacks.

The Risks

The 2016 Cisco Annual Security Report found that the manufacturing sector has some of the lowest-quality cyber security infrastructures in the country. Outdated security systems pose the biggest threat as they lack adequate protection against modern cyber security threats, putting the manufacturing companies using them at risk for uncontrolled failures, system crashes, and hacking.

Modern industrial machines are especially vulnerable and opening up clusters of machines on your plant floor creates additional opportunities for cyber attacks to occur. Such threats can cause millions of dollars in damage if they are allowed to attack your systems, through production downtime, IP theft, counterfeiting, brand damage, personal injury, and even loss of life in extreme cases. Additionally, manufacturing business have increasingly become targeted by not only traditional hackers and other cyber criminals, but also by competing companies and even some foreign nations that engage in corporate espionage. Therefore, protecting your company is paramount to keeping your business running smoothly, safely, and confidentially.

How to Protect Yourself

The key to staying safe in the cyber age is modernization. Using old cyber security systems out of convenience or a desire to save money will only cost you in the end, and while the initial investment in a modernized cyber security system can be high, the long term benefits far outweigh these costs. Here’s 7 ways you can update and tighten your cyber security while simultaneously utilizing IioT, external connectivity, and machines as a service tool:

  • Tip #1: Upgrade your old equipment and control systems
    This guarantees your cyber security will support the latest virus and malware protection. If for some reason a full upgrade isn’t immediately possible, add stricter controls to your current system, especially on legacy equipment, and require that all purchases of new automation machines and software adhere to the highest cyber attack standards.
  • Tip #2: Eliminate USB Drives
    This is absolutely key everywhere, but especially on your manufacturing floor.
  • Tip #3: Virtualize PCs and industrial computers
    Doing so everywhere is ideal, but it is particular important to do so on the shop floor. This will significantly reduce unplanned outages, which in turn increases security.
  • Tip #4: Implement edge compute capabilities 
    This can be accomplished through utilizing centrally managed industrial switching platforms.
  • Tip #5: Install firewall and identity management technologies
    This allows for managing, controlling, and auditing access to your factory floor networks.
  • Tip #6: Partner with leading security companies
    Working together with a company like Cisco, who alone employs over 5,000 people who focus solely on cyber security. Their entire focal point is keeping you as protected as possible, which will give you an added advantage.
  • Tip #7: Deploy platform-based solutions
    It can be tempting to purchase the latest greatest start-ups security products, the cost of integration, vendor stability, and technological obsolescence creates huge risks to your business. Focus instead on investing in secure, stable, long term companies with pre-integrated modular platforms.

While there is unfortunately no way to keep your manufacturing business 100% protected in the cyber world, taking these steps will go a long way in significantly reducing your risks. Don’t risk your company’s future-modernize your cyber security system today.

About Inora

Our innovative systems use our patented Math Engine technology to keep your expensive automated machines running smoothly and efficiently by utilizing automated machine check technology.