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Better Safe Than Sorry: 3 Ways to Boost Cybersecurity in Smart Factories

Lock with binary
(Image courtesy of CRN)

With Industry 4.0 and the advent of new technologies come not only significant increases in productivity but also novel threats to business. The vast amounts of data generated in production and the hyper-connectivity of devices make manufacturing companies particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks. Furthermore, IT (Information Technology) and OT (Operational Technology) are rapidly converging, leaving industrial control systems exposed to outside attacks via IoT.

Therefore it is no surprise that cybersecurity incidents have been on the rise in recent years. In a 2020 survey from Deloitte, 40% of manufacturers reported being victims of a cyber attack in the past year. Another study on industrial security, conducted by the Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) in 2017, found that 59% of manufacturers expected an increase in security incidents in the coming years.

Pie chart depicting perception of change in security incidents
(Adapted from VDMA Study on Industrial Security 2017)

Most cyber threats tend to be related to intellectual property theft, unauthorised access to data and operational disruption. The knock-on effects can be devastating, from the loss of vast sums of money and reputational damage, to the compromising of worker safety and temporary shutdown of production plants.

Ransomware is the attack du jour, with automobile manufacturer Honda being the latest high-profile target. On the 9th of June 2020, hackers succeeded in attacking their industrial control systems and brought operations in multiple plants to a halt for several days. Ransomware works by encryption, essentially locking the manufacturer out of the system until a monetary ransom is delivered, as can be seen in the screenshot below.

Screenshot of ransomware attack
(Image courtesy of Trend Micro)

The topic of IT security is hence of immense importance for the smooth operation of IT resources, but unfortunately, it often does not have priority status in the digitisation projects of companies. In this article, three technologies are presented that can strengthen cybersecurity in manufacturing firms and help them avoid becoming the next victim of a malicious cyber attack.

1. Embedded security for connected devices

Connected devices are fast becoming ubiquitous in manufacturing. If not properly secured, loopholes can be exploited by hackers, causing serious damage. Research conducted by HP showed that 70% of the most commonly used IoT devices are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Karamba Security, founded in Israel in 2015, offer a novel security solution that embeds a layer of security in existing connected devices. In this way, IoT devices are sealed, endpoints are hardened, and any attempts to disrupt their intended functionality are automatically blocked. Karamba’s runtime integrity software is supported on a wide range of CPUs and operating systems and is automatically integrated into devices, i.e., it does not require extra development resources.

Embedded security in connected devices
(Image courtesy of Karamba Security)

Karamba have already signed agreements to secure more than 12 million connected devices with their self-protection software solution. One company availing of their innovative solution is SolarEdge, a global PV inverter manufacturer. As a worldwide leader in smart energy with more than 1.25 million connected sites, SolarEdge recognised the importance of protecting their connected invertors against potentially costly cyber attacks. By implementing Karamba’s software into their devices, they became less vulnerable to attacks from hackers.

2. Cloud-based data protection

IoT and the large amounts of data being generated make cloud computing, which offers increased scalability and performance, crucial in modern manufacturing. Due to the associated efficiency benefits, businesses are increasingly moving their data and applications to cloud platforms. However, cloud services pose unique security threats, mainly due to the involvement of a third party in data processing and the associated relinquishment of control. Therefore, mass migration into the cloud requires a cloud-based security solution.

Admin dashboard
(Image courtesy of Druva)

California-based software company, Druva, are offering just that. Druva, built on Amazon Web Services, is a Software as a Service (Saas) solution for the cloud, which securely protects and manages data. The software includes various solutions for particular use cases, including enterprise cloud backup, disaster recovery, ransomware protection, and more. No additional software or hardware is required, as it is accessed on the cloud. End-to-end data encryption ensures that only authorised persons can access sensitive data. Druva already have many satisfied customers, including Austrian plant engineering group, Andritz. With sites all around the world, the company struggled to find a technological solution appropriate for managing and securing dispersed data. With Druva Phoenix, they were able to achieve better data visibility and protection. It also simplified data back-up processes, saving them valuable time and money.

3. Secure management of industrial IT

Digitalisation is transforming factories and enhancing productivity in many ways. However, increasing digitalisation means that production environments have become more complex to manage. With the interconnected and multifaceted nature of IT systems in OT infrastructures, an effective way of monitoring them is essential, especially if cyber attacks are to be avoided.

Ondeso, a Regensburg-based start-up, offer state-of-the-art software to ease the management of industrial IT infrastructure. The software provides a comprehensive overview of the infrastructure, in particular regarding IT security, allowing you to react quickly when security issues arise. The software suite contains four unique products, each with a specific focus. For example, ondeso SR enables patch management, software distribution and data backup, as well as the active management and inventory of all IT components. Key information can also be collected through the quick generation of reports. It is no wonder, then, that many manufacturing companies have already availed of ondeso’s pioneering security solutions. Thanks to ondeso software, Thyssenkrupp, a world leader in steel manufacturing, can now manage their OT infrastructure in an efficient and secure way.

As industrial technology advances, it is inevitable that connectivity will further increase, and manufacturers will become more and more exposed to security incidents. Having robust cybersecurity measures in place will therefore be critical. Fortunately, with such innovative security solutions now available on the market, protecting your manufacturing firm against destructive cyber attacks is well within your reach.

Still not sure how the latest technologies and Industry 4.0 innovations could help you solve problems like cybersecurity in your production environment? If so, feel free to send us a message at with details of your problem. Drawing on our industry expertise and AI-enhanced search methods, we conduct extensive research and suggest the best technology solutions tailored to your specific situation.


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Thomas Kinkeldei


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