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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Manufacturers: Approach Cybersecurity Like Your Assembly Line

To combat cyberattacks, which pose an evergrowing threat through the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers should take a page out of these own book and apply an assembly line method of their cybersecurity.

More connected devices on the factory floor mean more opportunities for hackers to attack.

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Even following the infamous cyberattacks of WannaCry and NotPetya that cost manufacturers vast amounts in 2017, nearly 1 / 2 of all manufacturing companies still suffered a data breach in the past year. Threats are evolving so quickly that manufacturers simply can’t maintain.

But by deteriorating cybersecurity in to its independent parts, manufacturers can better prepare for inevitable data breach attempts.

Growing IIoT cybersecurity risks.

Despite the security risks from the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), connected devices have far more advantages than disadvantages on the factory floor.

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The manufacturing industry must embrace digital transformation to remain resilient amid a decent labor market, shifting trade policies, and a global economy hit hard by COVID-19.

IIoT devices might help manufacturers improve performance, access consistent reports and insights, improve process visibility and customize their capabilities more seamlessly.

IIoT devices are especially vulnerable to attack.

  • Many black box devices like smart sensors and programmable logic controllers (PLCs) run on outdated code — in some cases code from the 90s — with bolted-on modules.
    The decades-old code often contains bugs that put devices at risk of dedicated-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, or even total takeovers.
  • Additionally, a number of these black box devices aren’t set up or configured because of it departments. For example, most manufacturers choose which milling machines to buy based on how quickly they turn out parts, not how strong their firewall is. But when these devices join the connected world, they’re exposed to new threats.
  • The organizations that produce connected devices often intentionally leave open a backdoor so they can easier conduct routine maintenance. In some cases, the only way manufacturers can update a device is through USB ports, which are notoriously prone to malware transmission.
  • Manufacturers haven’t done their due diligence in training blue-collar workers, that are often never as IT savvy as those in white-collar industries. Workers unfamiliar with proper security protocol are more vunerable to phishing scams.
  • Similarly, as mobile scanning apps become more popular on the factory floor, manufacturers have introduced more opportunities for potential attacks. Most organizations don’t have the capacity to manage various individual devices and apps along with their own technology, so personal tech usually goes unsupervised.

Because IIoT devices are far more susceptible to cyber breaches, DDoS attacks are normal.

Think back to the 2016 attack on Dyn, a domain name system (DNS), which brought down major websites including Twitter, Netflix, Paypal and Spotify. Groups of automated harmful programs, or botnets, attacked IoT devices in the thing that was, at the time, the biggest DDoS attack in history.

Not only are the risks of cyberattacks growing, the effects can be devastating.

According to research conducted by IBM, the common time for you to identify a data breach is 197 days, the common time to contain a data breach once identified is 69 days and the average cost of a data breach in the U.S. is $7.91 million.

In what of former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, “It is no longer a question of ‘if,’ but ‘when’ and ‘how often.’

There are merely two kinds of companies: people with been hacked and those which will be. And even they are converging into one category: organizations that have been hacked and will be hacked again.”

The assembly line approach to cybersecurity.

Even though data breaches are inevitable, manufacturers can still take the proper precautions to diminish their magnitude and mitigate potential damage.

Think about cybersecurity like a product in your assembly line. At every stage along the way, something new gets added, until you’ve assembled the ultimate product. But if you stop adding new pieces in the center of the process and try to utilize the product, it likely won’t work correctly.

Cybersecurity requires similar layers of firewalls, encryption, anti-malware, access control, and endpoint protection to most readily useful defend your IIoT devices.

Managing cybersecurity such as an assembly line requires techniques for every part of the process.

  1. Education: Employees who don’t know better are some of the easiest targets for cyberattackers. But a few simple process changes can help diminish instances of breaches caused by employees.

    1. Onboarding tutorials: Teach employees things to watch out for on day one. Include a web tutorial on how to avoid phishing scams as part of the onboarding process, and follow it up with a quick quiz.
    2. Frequent testing: Any employees who use devices that may get hacked should be tested frequently. Send your own test phishing messages to ensure initial training actually took hold. Employees that click the links in these test emails should be automatically scheduled to take a refresher course.
  2. Network segmentation and device fencing: To address the rise of unsecured IIoT and personal devices on the floor, manufacturers should purchase network segmentation. By splitting your main computer network in to subnetworks, or segments, organizations can not only boost performance but additionally enhance security.

    Segmentation restricts network usage of approved users and gives IT teams the capability to better get a grip on, monitor and protect the flow of information. If one subnetwork gets hacked, the risk of spread and the amount of data compromised are much lower.

    Additionally, manufacturers should establish device geofencing, which provides an extra layer of access get a grip on and streamlines BYOD management. These boundaries limit usage of certain applications or devices and track compliance inside a specific geographical perimeter.

    A geographical perimeter can be set up as a “device fence” — to alert system administrators when company-owned devices leave the premises or the device could be set to automatically shut down access.

  3. Hiring and outsourcing: Many manufacturers simply don’t have the IT department needed seriously to monitor and manage security risks. Often, the same person is responsible for managing both the company’s security and its particular network.

    These employees usually are overworked and lack the required checks and balances of a fully staffed IT department. It should come as no surprise then that the burnout rate is incredibly high among these professionals — adding further strain to manufacturers trying to compete in a decent labor market.

Even with the proper number of IT professionals in position, every business operating in the connected world needs 24/7 security coverage, 365 days per year.

Managed security providers (MSSPs) can fill in the gaps that IT departments can’t manage single-handedly. External specialists not just have access to a much broader cybersecurity toolkit than in-house staff, additionally they often cost not so much than hiring an entire internal team. And the savings in paid down malware illness rates are invaluable.

MSSPs provide several essential layers required for an assembly-line approach to cybersecurity.

The MSSPs approach includes a perimeter defense, endpoint security, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPs). The MSSPs offer security information and event management (SIEM).

When selecting an MSSP, locate a partner with:

    1. Considerable experience with incident response and use of leading endpoint protection technologies.
    2. Multiple client success stories, case studies and credible references.
    3. Breach detection that analyzes every trouble ticket, rather than tracking trends.
    4. Experienced staff — with the correct certifications — in every time zone where you conduct business.

The pace of IIoT cyberattacks isn’t letting up any time soon.

No, the pace of IIoT cyberattacks isn’t letting up — they’re intensifying in the wake of the coronavirus.

It’s merely a matter of time before your manufacturing company is breached — if you haven’t been already.

Know that the right mix of security layers can help you detect and stop more breaches, and recover quicker if the inevitable strikes.

Image Credit: Ivy Son; Pexels

Mike Rulf

Mike Rulf CTO of the Americas region at Syntax and is just a seasoned executive with over two decades managing large technology organizations exceeding 500 individuals supporting products in excess of $250M in revenue.
During that point he has had continuous hands-on involvement in the design, installation, maintenance, and extension of large distributed software solutions as well as both Cloud Services and SaaS platforms. Mike also spent four years implementing information security systems for large organizations.

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