Securing Discrete Manufacturing

We’ve pointed this out before, but just in case, we’ll point it out again. Cybersecurity is a big deal, especially in today’s environment. And while its impact touches almost every sector and industry, some of its focus has shifted as threats evolve. One area to really step into the spotlight throughout this evolution is manufacturing. Typically, fields such as finance and retail were the most concerned with cybersecurity. But as manufacturing becomes increasingly digitized, connected and dependent on data, it too has had to step up its defenses against cyberattacks. As we know though, manufacturing is divided into several categories, each of which needs to take on both general and individualized approaches to security. One such branch is discrete manufacturing.

Types of Cyber Threats Posing Risks to the Industry

Before diving into the specifics of discrete manufacturing, let’s first establish the types of cyber threats posing risks to the industry. In a piece for Manufacturing.net, Grace Lau summarized some of the most common issues that manufacturers come across. At the top is phishing, which recently made up 85% of the threats. The reason phishing is so prevalent is because of the long supply chain that manufacturing relies on. With so many organizations involved, there Is simply more opportunity for hackers. Another major threat is IP theft. A manufacturer’s intellectual property is their identifier; therefore, it is valuable and costly if compromised. Valuable aspects also open operations to ransomware attacks, a problem that is on the rise. Then, of course, there is the concern associated with nation-state actors that has been a specific focal point considering current international events. While this is not a full list of what manufacturing cybersecurity needs to protect against, it does provide an overall picture of why it is so important.

What Makes Discrete Manufacturing Stand Out

So, what makes discrete manufacturing stand out when it comes to building awareness around these threats? It comes down to the nature of discrete manufacturing, which is defined by constant change. As John Moore writes for TechTarget, “In discrete manufacturing, products often change, and companies must frequently reconfigure production cells.” Having to make such frequent shifts and deal with so many sources means that there is just more to keep up with and be vigilant about. And some of the most prominent industries exist around such complex manufacturing. Examples include automobiles and auto parts, electronics and computers, and aerospace, aviation, and defense.

The connection also comes in the form of rapid adoption of new technologies. In order to keep up with demand and relevance, manufacturers are taking on innovations that enhance productivity, and discrete production lines are turning more and more to automation developments that allow them to pick up speed. One such example is Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) which allows manufacturers to quickly and cheaply add capabilities causing IIoT spending in the discrete manufacturing sector is expected to significantly grow, especially in the Asia-Pacific region where it is predicted to reach $89 billion by 2025

A Secure Mindset and OT Network Management

As discrete manufacturers integrate such tech to upgrade overall operations, they must also be mindful that the benefits also come with risks like the threats mentioned above. The rapid changes can easily compromise the security posture of their networks.  This mindset is starting to take hold. A report from Microsoft, Intel and IoT Analytics concluded that, “Over the next three years, manufacturers plan to decrease the mean time to detect cybersecurity incidents by 30 percent,” according to Parag Ladha. To accomplish this, it takes investing in the right tools that help expand data visibility, organization, and more. Learn more about Veracity’s OT network management solution at https://veracity.io/.

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