Industry 4.0: should security take top spot?

Just as mechanisation revolutionised manufacturing during the first industrial revolution, digitisation is doing the same today. The benefits are widely known – improved productivity, agility and quality to name a few – but less mind is given to some of the accompanying challenges and to one in particular: security. 

When manufacturing businesses are reaping the rewards of digitisation, it can feel like something of an inconvenience to have to consider security – not least because it can require specialist input. The fact of the matter, though, is that security shouldn’t just be a consideration, but an underpinning factor of Industry 4.0 technology.

Today, hackers are more active than ever and so, without adequate security, the benefits of Industry 4.0 tech don’t risk just being negated, but even reversed. Systems are left open to attack, machines can be damaged and production shut down.

Few manufacturers would argue against the need to secure digital technologies and systems, just as the machines of the first industrial revolution needed securing, but to do so is not as simple as just locking the factory door.

Whether it’s that they don’t think it applies to them, they don’t understand it, or simply that innovations happening elsewhere in the business are more exciting, security is being left behind. With that in mind, there are three simple principles you can use to get up-to-speed:

 

  1. Find your expert: Manufacturers need people dedicated to cybersecurity, or at the very least have it covered as part of someone’s role. Without that, responsibilities aren’t clear, issues get missed and security slips.

 

  1. Never stop securing: Cybersecurity is not a one-time job. Businesses have to stay up-to-speed on the changing landscapes, keep their systems and safeguards continuously updated and keep track of how effectively security measures are working.

 

  1. Prepare for the worst: Simply put, you have to assume that, at some point, you might get caught out. When your systems get attacked and production goes down, how quickly can you start back up? Ongoing backups and disaster recovery systems may seem costly, but when the worst happens, they’ll pay for themselves and then some.

Locking today’s factory door is a more complicated process than ever before, but it’s crucial that manufacturers understand the necessity. Failure to do so means manufacturing could be encountering much bigger problems in the future.

 

Andy Levers, Technical Lead for LCR 4.0

 

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