It is no secret that the manufacturing industry has become increasingly dependent on new digital technologies. Connectivity is vital in the modern manufacturing enterprise and these businesses are collecting, analyzing and storing more data than ever before. This has offered manufacturers new ways to make informed business decisions that have ultimately resulted in smoother running facilities, a more agile business models and increased profitability. However, there is one fatal drawback that has manufacturers concerned about the future of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Big Data technologies and that is cyber security.
When IIoT technologies began making their way slowly but surely to the manufacturing industry, cyber security was largely an afterthought. These systems were inherently designed to be accessible to all that needed it, but this connectivity also played a role in its vulnerability. Random attacks, malware and even undetected data breaches occur nearly every day in the United States and manufacturers are on the front line of the fight to protect their critical data and intellectual property. From innovative production processes to new materials and manufacturing technology, manufacturers are carrying around a lot of accessible data on their private servers.
October has been dubbed ‘National Cyber Security Awareness Month’ by The Department of Homeland Security. This is because not only have manufacturers let their guard down against cyber threats, both private and public sectors have failed to recognize and address these threats. The digitization of manufacturing and the world happened so quickly, everyone was focused only on how to create a functional digital infrastructure. For so too long, cyber security was an afterthought and no one really understood what kind of damage these attacks could pose to the modern business. This trend is now changing and manufacturers along with the US government are taking cyber security extremely seriously.
Cyberattacks can cause real-world damage to a business which can result in downtime, stolen data, employee injury and beyond. Digital systems control nearly every aspect of the modern manufacturing enterprise so blast furnaces, chemical storage systems and fail-safes can all be attacked and remotely manipulated. One of the biggest and arguably most important trends that is happening in the manufacturing industry is IIoT service providers revamping their cybersecurity efforts. Manufacturers are educating themselves and the workforce on the risks they face online whether it is by email, mobile devices or any other form of connectivity.
Ransomware is a virus that encrypts all files on a hard drive. A manufacturer might come in one day to a message stating “Your Files Have been Encrypted, Pay $25,000 in 24 hours or all of your files and the files on your network will be destroyed.” This is something no business wants to see on their monitors. These kinds of attacks are becoming much more common and it is a great example showing just how much damage these cyberattacks can cause.
As IIoT service providers, sensor manufacturers, manufacturing businesses, and government agencies begin taking cyber security more seriously, there will be new ways to create a more secure industrial network. Business leaders must continue to educate themselves and their workforce in order to continue protecting their critical data. One slip-up could lead to a data breach and the fallout from that can be far reaching.
Below are some articles that can help you take cybersecurity into your own hands and help you see just how important this concept is to the modern manufacturer.
The 3 Main Ways To Protect Industrial Computers
Cybersecurity: Protecting Your Business & Where You Can Turn
Cyberattacks and the Real-World Impact