Industry 4.0 operations can be done more securely

Cybersecurity leaders play a vital role in allowing times and production lines to always have maximum availability and performance

Lucas Pereira

Those who pay attention to innovations, most likely have already noticed that, little by little, the image of what factories are like is changing. Instead of manual operations and production lines, for example, we are increasingly used to the idea of spaces full of robots and machines automating tasks.

This movement has a name: it is Industry 4.0, which has been revolutionizing the way companies develop, process and distribute their products through industrial automation resources and the integration of the most important emerging technologies, currently including concepts such as the Internet of Things (IoT – of Internet of Things, in English).

Lucas Pereira

What few have realized, however, is that, in addition to “smart factories”, Industry 4.0 is also a revolution from the point of view of cybersecurity. Communication between devices, new automation systems and, mainly, the advancement of the cloud and the 5G connection allow for better levels of efficiency and flexibility in operations – but can also serve as possible facilitators for attacks.

Not by chance, today, cybersecurity is seen as one of the main priorities for sustaining manufacturing companies, alongside concepts such as connectivity and the development of new products.

Gartner research, for example, indicates that 88% of business leaders at industrial companies see cybersecurity risk as a business risk, not just a technology risk. In addition, 51% of those protected from a cybersecurity risk incident in the last two years – a number that has been gradually increasing, as factories have gained scale in their automation and technology integration projects.

Cybersecurity, therefore, is already an essential concern for the progress of this new industrial revolution, both because of the importance of data circulating within manufacturing lines (projects, suppliers, programming grids, etc.) and because of the operation and availability of machines, sensors and equipment involved in the processes.

According to Gartner, for example, by 2025, cyberattacks will be able to use industrial network (OT) environments to harm or put lives at risk. Given this scenario, what should leaders do to ensure the success of their innovation journeys towards Industry 4.0 and, at the same time, mitigate threats?

The first action is to place cybersecurity as an asset that permeates strategic plans. A team with cybersecurity specialists needs to be part of the strategy to help in the development of more assertive projects and to facilitate the management and immediate response to incidents or the search for threats.

It is worth mentioning, by the way, that this protection policy must be constant – just like measuring the results of a business -, because you never know where and how an attack may occur. To make operations more secure, it is recommended to implement a comprehensive plan of cybersecurity solutions, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, identity management and strong authentication.

Another approach is to use secure communication protocols such as TLS or virtual private networks (VPNs) to protect data transmitted between devices, after all, they are important assets and should be given the utmost attention.

At the same time, it is also necessary to train employees to know how to avoid vulnerabilities and what to do in the event of a cyberattack. In addition, it is important that the Information Technology and Security teams are prepared to monitor operations continuously and down to the smallest detail to detect any abnormal behavior or malicious activity – and to make regular backups of data and systems configurations so that they can be restored quickly in case of failure.

After all, Industry 4.0 has the potential to revolutionize manufacturing and production, but it is important that everyone is aware of the risks and the importance of cybersecurity to protect operations and people in these new hyper-connected and increasingly smart times.

In this scenario, cybersecurity leaders play a vital role in allowing teams and production lines to always have the maximum availability and performance they need. The good news is that there is no shortage of solutions and approaches to help companies and employees in this mission. Just check which brands will make their moves to include cybersecurity to support and enhance the revolution that the digital age is bringing to Industries. Time is running.

Lucas Pereira, director of products at Blockbit