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Cybersecurity: Smart Defenses for Smart Manufacturing Production

Cybersecurity: Smart Defenses for Smart Manufacturing Production

Protecting your manufacturing network involves the entire organization.


It is very difficult to go through a business day without another notice of a cybersecurity breach. Reported in February of this year, hackers infiltrated Tesla’s cloud environment and stole computer resources to mine cryptocurrency (dubbed “cryptojacking”), while some proprietary data related to mapping, telemetry and vehicle servicing was also reportedly exposed.


The breach was swiftly rectified, according to a Tesla spokesperson, who added there was “no indication” the breach impacted customer privacy or compromised the security of its vehicles.


According to MForesight: Alliance for Manufacturing Foresight (Ann Arbor, MI), improving cybersecurity for the manufacturing supply chain is a particularly serious need. Facing constant pressure to improve production efficiencies, manufacturing supply chains are necessarily connected, integrated and interdependent. But, securing the entire supply chain is not a top-down mission. Rather, it depends on security decision-making at the local factory level.


Standards organizations are one place to look for such emerging public-private partnerships. The National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE), a part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is a collaborative hub where industry organizations, government agencies and academic institutions are working together to address businesses’ most pressing cybersecurity challenges. This public-private partnership enables the creation of practical cybersecurity solutions for specific industries or broad, cross-sector technology challenges. Working with technology partners—from Fortune 50 market leaders to smaller companies specializing in IT security—the NCCoE and NIST are developing modular, easily adaptable examples of cybersecurity solutions demonstrating how to apply standards and best practices using commercially available technology.


For example, the NIST Engineering Laboratory (EL), in conjunction with the NCCoE will produce a series of solutions demonstrating cybersecurity capabilities for manufacturing organizations and then create a NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF). The five functions of NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework Core are:


  • Identify – Develop the organizational understanding to manage cybersecurity risk to systems, assets, data and capabilities.
  • Protect – Develop and implement appropriate safeguards to ensure delivery of critical infrastructure services.
  • Detect – Develop and implement the appropriate activities to identify the occurrence of a cybersecurity event.
  • Respond – Develop and implement the appropriate response actions regarding a detected cybersecurity event.
  • Recover – Develop and implement the appropriate activities to maintain plans for resilience and to restore any impaired capabilities or services due to a cybersecurity event.


An Integrated Security Spectrum


Security does not exist in a vacuum. Automation suppliers are integrating security into an overall automation spectrum that includes data gathering, performance monitoring and predictive maintenance.  At a recent Automation Fair, Sherman Joshua, Portfolio Manager for Connected Services at Rockwell Automation, described it this way. “Our people walk a customer’s facility, collect all its as­sets and profiles and put them in a hierarchy,” he explained. “After that, we do ongoing evaluations with integrated tools that do passive monitoring to keep the inventory up to date.”


“Besides simply monitoring switches and servers, we also evaluate asset health, because device performance can also indicate that an abnormal event may be hap­pening,” said Joshua. “If a switch or other component is heating up unexpectedly, it could indicate an attack.”


In addition to monitoring and reporting on networks and hardware for customers, Joshua added they can also use their new network manager software to easily monitor and troubleshoot their networks on their own, with little IT expertise required. “It’s a blend of us and our user monitoring their networks,” explained Joshua. “It’s in­formation technology (IT) horsepower at an operations technology (OT) skill set.”


The Holistic Approach


Solving emerging security challenges is a vital part of ongoing continuous improvement in manufacturing.  In addition to keeping up to date on emerging cybersecurity research on the federal level, the factory level also requires common-sense tips including:


  • Identifying and compartmentalizing key information and technology. In other words, know who has access to critical information. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – better to lose a piece of the puzzle than the entire picture.
  • Conducting training for managers on at-risk behavioral traits that indicate an increased likelihood of insider spying, such as unreported foreign trips, seeking proprietary or classified information unrelated to work duties, paranoia about being investigated and disproportionate anger over career disappointments.
  • Ensuring coordination and collaboration between HR, security, IT and all employees, not only for updating passwords and security patches, but also for creating a culture of accountability and security where data protection is seen as everyone’s responsibility. The best asset in any organization is the employee that has the training, awareness and dedication to spot an issue and the courage to raise it to management.


As threats become more prevalent, it is critical for manufacturers to take necessary steps to protect their companies. The value of production efficiency is not only found in lean practices. It’s also in securing the company for its stakeholders, workers and customers.

"It’s a blend of us and our user monitoring their networks. It’s in­formation technology (IT) horsepower at an operations technology (OT) skill set."
Sherman Joshua, Portfolio Manager for Connected Services

Rockwell Automation

    Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a contributing author and not necessarily Gray.

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