Hacker sitting at his desk

Tech Savvy IIoT Manufacturers Must Guard Against Cyberattacks

October 11, 2018

As IIoT manufacturers rush to embrace emerging technology that makes their operations run more efficiently, they are unfortunately not focusing on security and becoming much more vulnerable to the threat of a cyberattack. As they adopt cloud technologies and data analytics to improve their infrastructure, and purchase sensor connected machines it is essential for manufacturers to be fully aware of new cybersecurity threats. Let’s take a look at what the risks are and what can be done about them.

 Where are the Risks?

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), the connection of devices to the internet or to each other, is making it possible for manufactures to run more efficient operations at a faster speed. Unfortunately, IIoT is also providing hackers more opportunities to create specific “botnets” in which malware-infected computers attack a website to attack IoT devices used in manufacturing.

 Specifically, a botnet is a collection of internet-connected devices, which may include servers, personal computers, mobile devices and IoT devices that are infected and controlled by a common type of malware. The problem is that manufacturers and other users are typically unaware of a botnet infecting their system.

 Most products are now manufactured with machine-to-machine and sensor data communication so that any inefficiencies can be detected in the manufacturing process. However, these IoT tools are being exploited as having security vulnerabilities in which cyber attackers are hacking in and disrupting companies’ manufacturing processes, leading to defective products, downtime and product recalls.

 For example: a hacker can break into a company’s network and slightly change a machine’s welding conditions in any part of a car manufacturing process so that two pieces will not be joined as firmly as required. As a result, the car is less safe and will most likely be subject to recall, but the initial hack would go unnoticed until after the fact.

 Defending Against Hackers

Businesses in all sectors are reacting to increased cyber threats by investing in cyber defenses at an estimated $1 trillion globally over the next five years. Going forward, manufacturers may have to change their mindset about security while embracing the very technology that will help them expand their operations.

 Here are a few key ways to mitigate risk for your operations:

  • Identify all of your company’s assets to better understand where threats are likely to come from. Penetration testing and risk assessment services can help you manage this process.
  • Conduct vulnerability scanning on a regular basis, and make sure updates and patches are applied as soon as they are released—this can help prevent hackers from exploiting new vulnerabilities.
  • Implement access control measures, even with freshly updated devices. By doing so, you can help prevent hackers from accessing other parts of your system if one component is compromised.
  • Develop secure software to prevent future threats
  • Consider hiring IIoT certified security specialists

 According to a recent report, the cost of cybercrime to business is set to reach $6 trillion annually. Malware has spread from PCs and laptops to smartphones and mobile devices, and ransomware has reached epidemic proportions. By implementing cybersecurity practices now, you may help prevent costly threats to your business down the road.

For more information on IIoT cybersecurity contact your MarksNelson Smart Technology professional at 816-743-7700.

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