Bridgr Insights

Cybersecurity in Industry 4.0 era

Industry 4.0 created a new market in which customers, companies, and machines are all connected together, which gives a greater risk of cyber threats. This new ways of working are leading to new emerging risks. Therefore, the implementation of Industry 4.0 has to create an environment in which data can be stored, send and shared in a safe and secure way, making sure that customers and producers are protected.

Often, companies don’t know where to start to improve their data storage and their network security and/or aren’t aware of their security breaches. With this article, we would like to introduce you to this sensitive subject and explore it with you.

The sensitive areas of Industry 4.0:

First of all, if you would like to learn more about Industry 4.0, please read our article:  Industry 4.0, but what does that mean exactly? or our white paper here (only available in French).

Now, let’s dive into our subject. First, of all, let’s see which are the most sensitive spots in terms of security in the operations and production lines :

Your communication network

Whether it’s a typical LAN or WAN network or an LPWAN, more used for IIOT, the interconnectivity that Industry 4.0 implies will make your network security more and more important and sensitive; As you will be connected to your partners, suppliers, and clients, you will have to ensure a reliable base of trust and dependability for every participant in this added-value-network.

Your operations themselves

In your production lines and in your supply chains, Industry 4.0 will make the amount of collected information increases significantly! This amount of data is a very important competitive advantage but means a strong confidentiality pipeline and important security questions on how these data are used and who can have access to it.

Interconnection with machines

With the rise of Artificial Intelligence, decision making will increasingly be done through autonomic systems. You will have to ensure that those decisions are made based on good data and ensure a security structure that doesn’t allow anyone to access and control these machines.

As you can see, industry 4.0 technologies imply new challenges in terms of cybersecurity and I am sure you are now rolling your eyes and wondering, ok, what should I do now?

How to implement security systems?

How to start implementing your defense system and how to keep track of your safety installations?

First, assess your risk…

A good way to start is by assessing your actual situation and identifying the highest breaches in your security systems. To do that, you can do a threat analysis to find out which of your assets are the weakest points of your operations. Then, you can define which one of these assets are the most exposed. For example, if a machine is connected through your Wifi network with a simple security system. This could give a very easy door to any hacker.

Network segmentation comes as next step…

To ensure a safety standard, it is a good cybersecurity defense to separate the areas of your operations. By splitting your network into sub-network, you lower the risk of a global failure and even boost the performances of the global network. However, you need to be careful as this segmentation is a difficult project to undertake, you will have to spend the time to design the best network for your operations, and it often comes to an entirely new way of managing your network.

By splitting your network into sub-network, you lower the risk of a global failure and even boost the performances of the global network. 

Privileged access management

Your network is composed of computers, connexions, connected devices, software application, digital documents and other kinds of assets user have access to. The privileged users are the ones that have permission on these assets that are higher than usual ones. Those accesses are also the main targets for cybersecurity threats.  That’s the reason why you should focus on your access management system and implement a privileged access management system that would help you, quickly and effectively, face any attacks you might suffer…

Then, software safety…

Connecting your production line will naturally lead to increasing the risk of cybersecurity threats. You can easily imagine that a manipulated request for your production line can lead to dramatic losses, in terms of production as well as financial losses. That’s why you need to be careful with the management of your production line software. I am sure you’re asking yourself, ok but how?

The Answer is “ Defense!’. Through multiple security steps (you remember, segmentation and privileged access management ? ).

Lately, always take the security standard in account before buying machines and facilities.

It is very important for you to take the security as one of the most important decisions making factors when you add a machine to your operations…

Often factory managers will, wrongly, think that their machines are untouchable by cyber-attacks. However, today, programs like Stuxnet (a virus able to re-program industrial robots) are specifically created to harm machine’s functions. With the raising of Industry 4.0, it becomes increasingly important to implement security programs in mechanical systems.

Your Cybersecurity management is a Daily Hygiene

The implementation of the right security technology is important for your cybersecurity management, but it will account only for 50% of its success. Then you have to maintain it every day.

A good way to stay on top is to implement an Information Security Management System ( ISMS).  This system, which is an integral part of the international ISO/IEC 27001 standard for security techniques, suggests, on the one hand, using intermediate systems to secure information and, on the other hand, integrating hardware security modules into your devices to detect any unauthorized changes.

 The implementation of the right security technology is important for your cybersecurity management, but it will account only for 50% of its success. 

Cost/Benefits: How much do I have to pay and is it worth it?

Companies are often scared of the cost of implementing security standards, because it is really difficult to measure their output and if they are worth your money.  Risk analyses can help to detect which security investment is worth to be taken. An additional method to check if the costs are worth it, is ROSI (Return on Security Investment). ROSI doesn’t show only the classical-economic costs of a security precaution, it also measures the cost of probable damages as well as the impact of reducing the cost of the probable damage due to the implementation of the IT security.

Too much information?

Big companies have often their own IT-Security Team which takes care of the ISMS but SMEs have problems to implement the international Norms. Often, they have to face difficulties with the establishment, maintenance and continuous improvement of ISMS. The lack and the cost of specialists in the IT sector, to choose concrete actions and to implement the required risk analyses from the ISMS are, in reality, a huge problem for SMEs. Barriers to the implementation of a digital risk management are mainly the lack of know-how as well as the fact of addressing the problem only as an IT-management issue rather than a business management issue.

Here at BRIDGR, we can help find the best partner for security in the implication, advising of technology or maintenance of security software before a cyber-attack happens.

To finish, Security in Industrie 4.0 is a problem that can be solved, but it should be one of your strategic concerns. That’s way, I would also advise involving your employees in your defense system. It is important to teach your employees and make them aware of security lacks and how to prevent errors in the IT-Systems. The future of security stands on several pillars and everybody has to work hand in hand to bring it to success.

Clementine Roy

Amira Boutouchent

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