Cyber threat is a scary phrase. It’s ominous. It’s foreboding. But the scariest part of all? It’s vague. The phrase alone isn’t particularly clear – it represents a group of harmful actions that could possibly be taken against your business’s digital network and connections. Because of this lack of specificity, it can be difficult to know what exactly poses the biggest menace to your organization, especially when that problem is often the actual implementation of effective cyber security measures itself. The cyber security challenges that come along with maintaining a successful program can cause major problems for any company, no matter the industry. Identifying these concerns, then addressing and solving them, puts manufacturers on the right path toward protecting their organization, its facilities, and its operators.
Today’s world is more connected than ever before, especially in manufacturing environments. Sensors, devices, and controls all reside within the OT infrastructure to make sure operations move smoothly, while at the same time linking to Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) and ERP technologies on the IT level to ensure the success of the plant as a whole. This is demonstrated in the Purdue Model (ISA95 Pyramid), which highlights the use of several (network) layers. In recent years, this model has been extended to enable Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)-type applications where a connection can be made directly from the physical sensor to the cloud.
Because of this, now more than ever IT/OT convergence is required to keep modern plants running and secure against cyber threats. Additionally, the data that comes as a result of this convergence will then be maintained somewhere for analytics and other usage, oftentimes in the cloud. These connections are a hallmark of the modern manufacturing plant, allowing it to run efficiently, produce outstanding products, and create a powerful ROI. Without connections such as these, there would be much less need for cyber security on the OT side, but the benefits far outweigh the detriments. However, there are some unique challenges to cyber security.
In today’s connected manufacturing plant, there are three primary industrial cyber security challenges that must be considered. Take a look:
Reliability in cyber security speaks specifically to the risk of production loss. When IT and OT do not converge, companies lose real-time monitoring capabilities. Without those, it is nearly impossible to see the exact moments when problems occur, making it much more difficult to react to and correct those problems. This can include anything as malicious as a hack or as simple as compromised passwords.
When OT devices are connected so completely to IT systems, it’s oftentimes necessary for suppliers and other personnel to access them from remote locations. Furthermore, company employees accessing OT infrastructure from the office (enterprise) floor are also generally considered to be utilizing remote access. To prevent cyber threats, that requires security at best. Finding a provider that’s up to that challenge can be difficult, but with the right tools in place, it is more than possible.
When IT and OT converge with one another, there are always going to be risks involved. It’s necessary to face this possibility, but even more necessary to anticipate and mitigate these concerns. One such problem that could arise is the exposure of OT devices to the enterprise environment. By taking the right measures with a partner who is well-equipped to manage risks at every stage of the process lifecycle, these issues in cyber security are significantly minimized.
Cyber security problems plague just about every business in the modern age, but especially those in the manufacturing space. In a world full of threats, PA Solutions is the end-to-end partner manufacturers need to keep running at full operational effectiveness. Our DISO Shared Services are specially designed to support manufacturers and growing companies through managed technology solutions with scalable framework to keep systems running at over 99%. Mitigate the biggest challenges of industrial cyber security (ICS) with a proactive approach.