To Make the Leap to Industry 4.0, Manufacturers Must Solve Cybersecurity Challenges

Manufacturers have always been prime targets for cybercriminals, but as Industry 4.0 technologies bring massive amounts of valuable proprietary data online, cybersecurity has taken on new importance.

Each year, leaders at the Davos World Economic Forum gather to discuss the world’s most pressing issues. The manufacturing industry’s number one concern this year? Cybersecurity. McKinsey presented research at Davos suggesting that Industry 4.0 — the coming era of data-driven industrial automation — has been hamstrung by cybersecurity concerns. After surveying more than 1,000 manufacturing sites globally, McKinsey discovered that just sixteen are actively implementing Industry 4.0 technologies.

Manufacturers and industrial organizations have been hesitant to roll out industry 4.0 initiatives in part due to their concern over rising security threats. IBM’s 2018 Threat Intelligence Index rated manufacturing as the second-most targeted industry for cyberattacks, and the third most likely to suffer security incidents.

The confluence of poorly-secured IoT devices and the vast stores of valuable data they produce has made manufacturing an increasingly tempting target for cybercriminals. At the same time, these technologies — predictive data analytics, AI, IoT, robotics, et cetera — are the very ingredients these businesses will need to succeed in the fourth industrial revolution. The upshot of this phenomenon is a dire need to develop and implement next-generation cybersecurity solutions designed specifically for Industry 4.0 tech.

Cybersecurity and Industry 4.0: Data Is King

Data-driven innovations present significant economic opportunities for a manufacturing industry that makes up roughly 15% of the global GDP. Industrial manufacturers that leverage data to continuously innovate, transform, and make smart, tactical business decisions stand to secure a substantial competitive edge. This is the promise of the next-generation technologies that comprise Industry 4.0. However this increasing focus creating and utilizing growing stores of valuable data also poses a challenge.

Manufacturing has always been an attractive target for threat actors. However as the industry deploys new technologies, the target on their backs will only grow. Cybercriminals will have all the more reason to steal pricing data, production data, patent plans, blueprints, and more.

For the most part, when cybercriminals target a manufacturer, their goal is to steal intellectual property and trade secrets (data exfiltration). One report found that over 90% of malware aimed at manufacturers is designed to steal IP.

The addition of data-rich Industry 4.0 technologies has only exacerbated this threat. While industries that implement next-generation technologies will gain valuable data assets, those assets can quickly turn into liabilities if they’re not adequately secured. In short, Industry 4.0 tech represents both a boon and a burden — hence the industry-wide hesitation to jump in feet first.

How Can Manufacturers Protect Their Data?

McKinsey’s so-called “lighthouse” leaders of Industry 4.0 are doing a number of things right. The research firm examined sixteen leaders in the manufacturing industry which they contend are outpacing the field in terms of implementing Industry 4.0 technologies at scale. However even for these industry leaders, cybersecurity remains an ongoing concern and a top priority.

As a result, many manufacturers are taking a “zero-trust approach” to their data security. This approach limits access to on-premises infrastructure, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), containers, proprietary data, and other vulnerable assets that are breached with regularity. Limiting access to these attack vectors is one method these organizations are utilizing to shore up their cybersecurity.

In addition to restricting access, manufacturers looking to charge into the fourth industrial revolution will need establish the right partners to ensure robust network security. Turn-key Technologies (TTI) has been building high-performance networks designed for cybersecurity from the ground up for thirty years. Our Certified Wireless Security Professionals are committed to ensuring the integrity of your network with purpose-built solutions for the next era of industry. Whether you’re looking to start with a comprehensive network audit, a wireless site survey, or you’re ready to partner with a competent managed service provider that can handle all your IT needs, the experts at TTI are ready to help.

With our managed services programs, TTI’s experienced staff can provide the functionality of a fully-staffed IT department for a fixed monthly payment. In an increasingly volatile threat environment, those businesses that establish the robust cybersecurity needed for Industry 4.0 will be poised to outperform the competition.

By Tony Ridzyowski


Sign up for the TTI Newsletter