As manufacturing continues to modernize and incorporate new technologies, it also increases the risk of cybercriminals attempting to exploit these new systems and the perceived lack of experience on the company’s end. As such, cybersecurity has become an ever-growing need, and now the University of Texas at San Antonio is launching a new institute to meet these needs.
The new Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute is a $111 million public-private partnership being led by the University, which is entering into a five-year cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy in order to head up a group of 59 proposed member institutions. The goal is to create a cyber secure energy-ROI that drives American manufacturers and their supply chains to adopt more secure, energy-efficient approaches, which will ultimately secure and sustain the nation’s leadership in global manufacturing competitiveness.
While the manufacturing sector, in general, is a prime target for cybercriminals and nation-state opponents, energy technologies such as electric vehicles, solar panels, and wind turbines have been specifically targeted in recent times. So have supply chains, with the increased use of automation making them easier to attack than ever before. As the Covid-19 pandemic accelerates the need for manufacturers to modernize, the UTSA plans for their new institute to be leading the way in terms of creating new cybersecurity talent and developing new strategies.
As part of its national strategy, the institute will focus on three high-priority areas: securing automation, securing the supply chain network, and building a national program for education and workforce development. According to the institute’s chief executive officer Howard Grimes, new automation technologies “must be embedded with powerful cybersecurity protections.” “UTSA has assembled a team of best-in-class national laboratories, industry, nonprofit and academic organizations to cyber secure the U.S. manufacturing enterprise. Together, we will share the mission to protect the nation’s supply chain, preserve its critical infrastructure, and boost its economy.”