Are Your Factory IT Systems at Risk?

Digitisation and innovation come with enormous benefits for every industry, and for the manufacturing industry, there’s no exception. The challenges and demands of today’s digital world scream for transformation. In order to adapt and overcome these challenges, more manufacturing businesses jump on the digital bandwagon and take new technologies like AI and cloud computing on board to help drive growth and productivity. These factories, called smart factories, form part of a new era, the ‘Industry 4.0’.  

But with digitisation and innovation comes challenges and risks too, one of them being the increased exposure to cyber threats. With cybercrime taking new heights, most smart factories aren’t prepared and equipped for the ever-evolving threat landscape as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) poses several vulnerabilities and security gaps. If not fully protected, every device, application, system, or product offers a free admission ticket into your business data.  

Read on to discover the cyber security challenges smart factories are facing and how to lessen your risk of becoming a victim to cyber-threats. 

Smart factory

What are the cyber security challenges of smart factories?  

More connectivity = more vulnerability 

Manufacturing businesses need various control systems to manage industrial operations and to allow them to operate effectively. These control systems can be anything from programmable logic controllers to embedded systems and industrial IoT devices. Although they enable smart factories to be more connected to suppliers, vendors, and other businesses across the globe, the increased connectivity makes them more vulnerable to cyber threats. With the introduction of advanced technologies and digitisation, these systems pose an increased risk for cyber-attacks due to their many vulnerabilities and security gaps.  

Integration of IT with OT (Operational Technologies)  

To offer a better customer experience and improved operational efficiency, many smart factories try to converge IT and OT across their operations. However, these systems are often not in sync as IT and OT overlap between certain areas such as technology, processes, and people. This can lead to insecure network connections and the use of technologies with security gaps.  

False sense of security  

According to the MAPI and Deloitte Smart Factory Study, 90% of smart factories report using cyber-attack detection measures, but only very little monitor their OT systems. And even fewer factories perform regular cyber security assessments. These reports indicate that smart factory owners seem to believe their security measures are sufficient to respond to and recover from cyber-attacks and are not aware of emerging threats that could put their business at risk.

Human error  

Human error poses another threat to manufacturing businesses as workers and engineers have to work and get familiar with numerous new technologies. If they don’t know how to handle, analyse or collect data responsibly, they can quickly become a target for cybercriminals.  

Smart factory

How can smart factories mitigate cyber risks?

Here are a few steps to take into account when creating a robust cyber security strategy. These can help manufacturing companies tackle their cyber security challenges. 

1) Perform a cyber security assessment:

The first step is to perform a cybersecurity assessment to detect any vulnerabilities in your systems and operational technologies that could put your business at risk. Onyx IT offer comprehensive cyber security assessments. Alternatively, you can get started with our self-test cyber risk assessment here.  

2) Create a comprehensive security strategy: 

Enable your IT and OT teams to work together to assess the risks facing your company. and work with an outsourced IT security provider like Onyx IT to implement mitigation strategies, ensuring you avoid blind spots. 

3) Apply security from the start: 

Try to include all security controls for your projects from the very start. These security controls should include secure network segmentation models, monitoring solutions, secure remote access, access management, and consistent backup processes.  

Onyx IT is here to help guide you through every step of the process and create a robust and comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. 

Book a cyber security consultation today to see where your smart factory stands and determine your next steps by talking to one of our cyber security experts.