Cyber security considerations for smart factories

Cyber security considerations for smart factories

Cyber security considerations for smart factories

Cyber security considerations for smart factories are specifically for manufacturers who intend to stay ahead of the competition and hence use technology to streamline their processes and overcome production challenges. Combining information and operations technologies creates a flexible, reliable, and interconnected smart factory. The smart factory enhances performance by exploiting interconnected, agile and proactive digital resources for continuous improvement and self-learning. This helps manufacturers to improve all facets of manufacturing and the supply chain.

A standard smart factory has the following elements:

1. Cloud technology

2. Robotics

3. Internet of Things (IoT) and

4. big data

The smart factory is an innovation of the Industry 4.0 revolution and is  highly efficient manufacturing system that uses cutting-edge technologies to work in unison and optimize manufacturing value chains. This system is designed to constantly improve and learn from itself by harnessing the power of interconnected digital resources. By leveraging emerging trends such as additive manufacturing and augmented reality, the smart factory is able to enhance performance in all facets of manufacturing and the supply chain. This results in a more agile and proactive system that is always working to improve itself. The aim of smart technologies for factories are as follows:

1. Maximize asset availability

2. Optimize safety

3. Autonomously detect and rectify quality issues

4. Strengthen sustainable manufacturing practices

 

Before making the shift to a smart factory, companies must first identify any operational gaps and relevant technologies that could address them. Rather than implementing these solutions all at once, it’s usually best to start small and scale up gradually once you start seeing positive results. Additionally, it’s often necessary to train or acquire new talent to manage these resources effectively.

Possible security risks when switching to smart factories

Advanced digital technologies have brought many new concerns to companies in terms of security, one of the most prominent being cyberattacks. If a manufacturing system were to be attacked and crippled, it would mean a significant loss of productivity for the company. In some cases, these attacks can even cause physical infrastructure damage. The following should be the concerns of smart factories.

 

Data Theft and Malware Attack

Cyber security considerations for smart factories are becoming necessary  because hackers often target exposed networks in an attempt to steal confidential information from companies. By identifying weaknesses in human-machine interfaces, they can gain access to private data. Additionally, they may also steal information on the real-time performance of various production assets that are monitored by industrial IoT sensors. In some cases, cyberattacks may also interfere with the proper functioning of physical devices, causing them to transmit inaccurate information.

Vulnerability and loopholes exploitation

The smart factory contains several interconnected systems and devices which share the same network. criminals could exploit vulnerabilities within these systems to attack the company as a whole. This one of the  major cyber security considerations for factories.   They could do this by propagating attacks throughout the company via the shared network.

Denial-of-service attacks (DoS)

A denial-of-service (DoS) attack is a type of cyberattack that disable industrial networks and devices. When manufacturers lose control over processes because of this, workflows are compromised and assets and employees are exposed to safety risks.

Tips to minimize security risks when transitioning into Smart Factory system

1. Conform to standard recommended technological regulations

As companies transit into smart factory systems, they implement new technologies. The transition process can be difficult, as it involves integrating new devices and solutions with varying industry standards and regulations. Some companies may disregard existing regulatory specifications when implementing digital technologies, which can expose their facilities to security risks. It’s important for companies to adhere to recommended technological solutions, as this encourages the formulation of best practices for the optimum security of the smart factory.

2. Enforce System control measures and encryption

Smart devices are becoming increasingly popular amongst consumers and businesses alike, but with this increase in popularity comes an increase in the potential for attacks. If not properly secured, these devices can become primary sources of attack. In order to protect their systems, companies must establish strict measures for accessing and safeguarding data. Industry-standard encryption algorithms should be employed to protect data and ensure real-time integrity. Digital signatures and cryptographic hash functions can be used to authorize system access by specific individuals within the organization. By adopting several encryption methods, companies can avoid abuse by individuals who may want to facilitate internal or external system attacks.

3. Employ the use of Intrusion detection system

Facilities managers can make their facilities more secure by implementing intrusion detection strategies that continuously monitor data packets for system vulnerabilities. This approach can prevent internal and external attacks by performing regular data inspections on IoT nodes or leveraging historical data to spot anomalies. Advanced intrusion detection systems use artificial intelligence and machine learning to comb through massive datasets to detect and predict security threats. This enables companies to develop risk models to prioritize threat detection and elimination.

4. Train employee and plan for recovery strategy

Cybersecurity training doesn’t just complement other security mitigation measures that companies have in place – it’s an essential piece of the puzzle. By equipping employees with the technical skills to detect and neutralize system attacks, you’re giving them the tools they need to be an active line of defense against cybercrime. And if, despite everyone’s best efforts, a cyberattack does manage to penetrate your systems, it’s important to have a recovery plan in place so you can minimize production losses and get back up and running as quickly as possible.

 

 

Naijateck is Nigeria’s information and communication portal for technology news and information

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