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Bring in the Cat and Lock the Door: Securing Your Manufacturing Data

Smart Manufacturing, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
July 18, 2023

On days when the temperature is just right, there's nothing like a screen door to let in the breeze and sunlight and keep out the bugs. While that image is idyllic for quiet afternoons at home, it's a nightmare for the security of a smart manufacturer whose greatest need is to secure their data.

The reality is, in business, the temperature isn't always right. And while no one wants bugs in and out of the building, a screen door also doesn't keep out larger, more dangerous creatures. 

Today's manufacturing operations are equal parts data center and production machinery. Increasingly dangerous security threats can disrupt processes, endanger workers, and destroy business data, so it’s vital to protect your assets as closely as a beloved family pet.

Facing Reality

Digitization is growing at a rapid pace in the industry, with 97% of manufacturers planning to use smart manufacturing technology. At the same time, manufacturing sees the highest average ransomware payments out of any other sector. It’s a new reality: modernization is essential to achieving success, but it has to come with a strong cybersecurity plan. That’s why it’s time to consider bringing in the cat (your data) and trade the screen door for something sturdier, like a vault.

Understanding What's Out There

To understand the need for greater security in smart manufacturing, one must first understand the most significant threats smart manufacturing companies face:

  1. Ransomware – Ransomware continues to be one of the greatest threats finding access through existing software, downloads from devices like USBs, fake updates of actual products, video games, and email attachments.
  2. IIoT Vulnerability – As a core technology to smart manufacturing, IIoT devices like sensors autonomously transmit data and perform functions in many industrial applications. Many of these devices are on networks with lax or non-existent security, providing easy access to intrusion.
  3. Personal Device Proliferation – Personal devices on a factory floor are almost impossible to manage. Many companies allow these devices and the connection to the internet or charging through a PC.
  4. Software Attacks – Most companies use a combination of legacy software for enterprise functions. This legacy software is often outdated or contains security vulnerabilities when integrated with smart manufacturing system components.
  5. Cloud Attacks – While cloud security has made enormous advances, it’s still an area that can be exploited for some companies.

Choosing Your Vault Door Wisely

The best way to replace your screen door with a vault door is to choose wisely by researching the options and doing the due diligence required to make the right choice. Of course, the best security speaks for itself. Smart manufacturing customers who have already sourced a robust and secure platform will offer guidance on who provides the most secure features and what those features are.

Aside from references, look for adherence and commitment to international security standards. For example, the Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform™ was awarded the ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification to reflect its dedication to data security for its best-in-class cloud infrastructure. The platform utilizes additional features to monitor threats and track changes. These features include multi-layered solid security protocols to fend off malware and hardened firewall clusters to monitor threats and track changes against the never-ending barrage of attempts.

Closing the Door

Smart manufacturing solutions improve efficiency, performance, cost, and risk mitigation, but implementing a security strategy alongside any solution is critical. That way, your data can remain behind the strength of a vault door instead of letting in the breeze while letting out your sensitive company data.

Learn more about how cybersecurity fits into your software selection by reading the Smart Manufacturing Software Buyer's Guide.

About the Author

Plex Team

Plex Systems, Inc., a Rockwell Automation company, is the leader in cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, empowering the world’s manufacturers to make awesome products. Our platform gives manufacturers the ability to connect, automate, track and analyze every aspect of their business to drive transformation. The Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform includes solutions for manufacturing execution (MES), ERP, quality, supply chain planning and management, Industrial IoT and analytics to connect people, systems, machines, and supply chains, enabling them to lead with precision, efficiency and agility.