Manufacturing is becoming more and more automated every day. While this automation has many benefits, it also introduces new security risks. Here’s what you need to know about automation and cybersecurity.
The manufacturing industry has always been at the forefront of adopting new technologies. After all, to produce products efficiently and at scale, you need to be using the best tools available. One of the most important trends today is automation. Automation refers to the use of technology to automate repetitive tasks, improving quality and consistency while reducing costs. In addition, automation can help improve safety by reducing the need for human workers to perform dangerous tasks. Automation is possible because of the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is a network of connected devices and machines. Manufacturers can gain insights into production processes and identify areas for improvement by collecting data from machines with sensors incorporated into them. The collected data, with assistance from complex software and programming, allows production lines to function on their own. In addition, the Internet of Things can be used to track inventory levels and monitor asset performance in real-time.
There are several other things needed to automate a production line, but some of the most common methods used in manufacturing are robotics and machine learning. Robotics involves using machines that can be programmed to carry out specific tasks. Robots have sensors that allow them to detect obstacles and avoid collisions. On the other hand, machine learning uses algorithms that can learn and improve over time. These algorithms are integrated into robotics. Both of these methods are becoming more prominent in manufacturing due to their ability to improve efficiency and accuracy.
Another common type of machine used in automotive manufacturing is the CNC (computer numerical control) machine. CNC machines use software to control the movement of tools and create precise shapes and patterns.
Data Warehouses and Analytics
For automation to be effective, you also need a way to collect and analyze data. This is where data warehouses and analytics come into play. Data warehouses allow you to store large amounts of data in a central location, making it easy to access and analyze. Analytics is the process of extracting useful information from data, such as trends or patterns. By using analytics, manufacturers can identify areas where automation can improve efficiency or accuracy.
Weaknesses of Automation
While automation has many benefits, it also has some weaknesses in the manufacturing industry.
One weakness is that automation can lead to job loss. When tasks are automated, human workers are no longer needed to perform those tasks, which can lead to layoffs. Robotics is poised to replace 20 million manufacturing jobs in the next 8 years.
The use of automation in manufacturing has many benefits, but it also poses some cybersecurity threats. One of the biggest threats is that hackers could gain access to the network of connected devices and machines and wreak havoc. They could disable machines, steal data, or even worse, sabotage the production line. In addition, there is a risk that the automated systems could be manipulated to produce faulty products.
Another type of malware that could pose a threat is ransomware. This happens when data on a computer or network is encrypted, making it inaccessible to the user. The attacker then demands money before they will decrypt and give access to the data again. If this were to occur in a manufacturing plant, it could halt production until the ransom was paid. REvil, a hacker group, carried out a ransomware attack last year on JBS— one of the world’s leading meat processing companies. As ransom, the company paid $11 million.
Safeguards Against Cybersecurity Threats
Manufacturers need to be aware of these risks and take steps to mitigate them. They should have strong cybersecurity protocols and protect devices from cyberattacks. As their employer, you must keep your system safe.
If a company is attacked by ransomware, it should take the following steps to mitigate the damage:
- Disconnect the infected devices from the network.
- Contact your cyber insurance provider.
- Restore the data from the backup.
- Update your cybersecurity protocols.
- Train your employees on how to recognize and respond to ransomware attacks.
Employing Cybersecurity Services
Cybersecurity companies offer a range of services to help protect your company’s network from cyberattacks. They can provide a variety of solutions, such as:
A firewall is a security system that is designed to prevent unauthorized access to your network. It does this by blocking traffic from unauthorized sources. Cybersecurity companies can help you set up a firewall and configure it to meet your specific needs.
Antivirus software is a type of software that is used to protect your computer or network from viruses and other types of malware. It scans all incoming files and emails for viruses and quarantines them. Cybersecurity companies can help you choose the right antivirus software for your needs and set it up on all your devices.
2-factor authentication is a security measure that requires two forms of identification to log in to an account or device. This can be something as simple as a password and a code sent via text message, or it could be something more complex like a fingerprint scan and a spoken password. Cybersecurity companies can help you set up 2-factor authentication for your company’s devices and accounts.
If possible, you should use VPN (Virtual Private Network) services for your company’s network. The benefits of using VPN services are that they encrypt your data, making it more difficult for hackers to access it. In addition, they also provide a secure connection, making it more difficult for cyberattacks to take place.
You should also update your company’s device software frequently. This is because new software updates often include security patches that can help to protect your devices from malware.
In addition, you should have a strong cyber incident response plan in place. This plan should be designed to help you quickly and effectively respond to a cyberattack.
Training Your Employees
In particular, your employees are a big weak point for cyberattackers to exploit, so they should be trained to recognize and avoid these threats. However, this can be difficult. For starters, here are things you can advise them to do:
- Avoid clicking on links in emails or on websites unless you are sure they are safe.
- Do not open email attachments unless you are expecting them.
- Do not disclose personal information to anyone unless you are sure they are legitimate.
- Use strong passwords.
- If you are unsure about something, ask your IT department or a cybersecurity expert.
By understanding how automation works and the benefits it can bring to your business, you can decide if automating your process is the right move for you. The Internet of Things plays a big role in connecting automated machines, and data warehouses and analytics are used to run production lines smoothly. While there may be some job loss associated with automation, overall it can lead to increased efficiency and productivity. And perhaps most importantly, by taking cybersecurity precautions and training employees on best practices, you can protect your business against major threats. Are you ready to automate your process? Get started on it today.