Connected manufacturing: Three steps to cloud security

August 15, 2016 //By Martyn Williams
Connected manufacturing: Three steps to cloud security
You wouldn’t allow an intruder to spend 229 days in your house undetected, so why would you do that with your manufacturing facility? As incredible as that sounds, the average time between a cyber security breach and its detection is 229 days. Manufacturing facilities are leading the list of potential targets for cyber espionage, denial of service (DoS) and web-application attacks. Here, Martyn Williams, Managing Director of industrial automation software supplier, COPA-DATA UK, discusses three steps manufacturers should take to stay safe in the cloud.

As the manufacturing sector moves towards industrial automation, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the cloud, the number and nature of cyber threats is also growing. A decade ago, user security was the IT department’s responsibility. Connected devices, the collapse of traditional industrial automation architecture and the move to the cloud means cyber security needs to take centre stage in any manufacturing facility.

Hackers traditionally targeted the IT and enterprise systems, but now manufacturers are seeing the same threats on their production lines, sensors, PLCs and SCADA systems. Traditional security focussed on passive defence, but increasingly advanced attacks require a different approach.

The one thing manufacturers need to understand is that any industrial automation system today is vulnerable to cyber attacks. The only way of taking advantage of the benefits of IoT and the cloud is to stay vigilant and use industry best practice. Industrial security is no longer the IT department’s concern, but a 24/7 job for everyone, including those in the boardroom.


Identify and protect valuable data

From intellectual property (IP) to trade secrets or critical production data, most departments in your organisation have sensitive information that could be the target of cyber-attacks. The first step is to identify these valuable data assets and restrict access to them by “hiding” them behind additional layers of protection and encryption.

Manufacturers can protect valuable production data using industrial automation software that has comprehensive security features, such as strong encryption, secure user administration and digital file signatures to recognise bogus programs. Software that allows you to allocate password-protected access to individual users is particularly beneficial because it empowers manufacturers to create individually configured access levels for different users. This means only authorised users gain access to valuable information.

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