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Industrial Automation: Control Services to Reduce Cyber Security Risks

December 6th, 2017

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Industrial automation is leading mechanization of businesses to a new level. Software-driven equipment has increased the scope of improving productivity in the face of numerous challenges. Robotic capabilities in the manufacturing plant are not a new concept, but interaction between them, while both share a web-based platform is relatively new. What is even more interesting is that the machines are now connected to the Internet. That is a future already on the horizon for all industry leaders.

In today’s world, the emphasis of automation is improving the efficiency, reducing cost of manufacturing, increase in quality of product and productivity by gathering and analyzing the data across plant and across machines. This requires connectivity across plants, machines and Legacy devices. Previously, the main aim was to increase production through automation of machines, but now, through connectivity across plants, machines and Legacy devices and it comes with the risk of product or plant security.

A better future, not for nothing

The quality of life people share in an enterprise environment brings a major issue that requires technologies to improve. Yet it is generally on the minds of every organization how safe is their software and hardware environment. To improve control services to reduce cyber security risks is in one’s own hands as a business leader. The thought leadership required to allow fewer hours spent on tasks is of paramount importance to everyone as the world evolves into the age of IoT.

With industrial tools & devices being connected to IoT in the near future, and machine-to-machine (M2M) communication becoming feasible already, systems should allow automation of the security process itself and a feasible platform to conduct widespread analytics to detect the risks.

Countering threats with leadership

Cyber-threat mitigation can improve modern industrial control systems such as distributed control systems (DCS), programmable logic controllers (PLC) and protect legacy devices. However, the simple solution a company needs within its plants is by addressing vulnerabilities/loopholes of business assets and building better firewalls.

Automation has started focusing and investing heavily on cyber security as connected devices become the norm. Many industries from manufacturing to transportation bear no exception. Automation in traffic control, land and air, has only led to increasing capacity and accuracy as an example setting forth new possibilities.

Ensuring a solid strategy for feasible industrial automation

Approaches to cull threats need to be in sync with multiple service-level agreements (SLAs), platforms, and operating systems. Besides, cyber-security practices have to be in control of your organization’s decision makers.

Increase in outsourced communications and computer operations bring the risk of losing integrity in security and data itself, but simultaneous efforts to develop technology can help. Companies have to rely on simple procedures to check vendor quality, technology scalability, and flexibility for deployment across business units.

When will leadership need training?

It is important for companies with legacy-industry backgrounds to remain competitive. They can do so through revisions of the business model and reaching one that is elastic and agile.

It would be, mildly put, simply unwise to avoid automated machine-to-machine (M2M) communication just because there are unforeseen risks now. In late 2017, M2M communication is just an upgrade from control systems that convert information from one stage of production to the next. Now, efficiency through machine-and-infrastructure systems is not a matter of how, but if.

The most important aspect to remember is that “one size” never fits unique data-driven environments. Cyber-security risks are best understood according to requirements of the company objectives, and operations required from that point.

For each organization, industrial automation, on a large scale, brings unprecedented cyber security risks. However, they remain a matter of “controlling” the systems, through quality software. The depth of intelligence required to cut cyber-security adequately is dependent on the frequency of automation and interaction between industrial machines, and thus how easily software marries mechanics.

Author: Channabasavaraj Raravi, Senior Solutions Architect – Software, Product Engineering Services