Are you prepared for the cybersecurity challenges of Industry 4.0?
At the core of this new industrial era is the convergence between information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). That’s a paradigm shift in which two separate organizational silos – IT and operations – come together and pave the way for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
OT/IT integration enables industrial infrastructure – from machinery in a factory to irrigation systems – to exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet. The operational efficiencies are unquestionably high – so are the cybersecurity risks.
Operational technology involves the equipment, sensors, and systems deployed in critical infrastructure and manufacturing plants. Think of traffic control lights, electric grids, programmable logic controllers (PLC), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), robotic arms, and other types of factory machinery.
The evolution of OT security has traditionally been slow due to:
The manufacturing industry has significantly changed due to increased IT/OT alignment.
Information technology (IT) is all about data. When combined with OT, it has the potential to improve industrial efficiency and reduce costs. With real-time access to data, manufacturers can achieve:
IDC predicts that, by 2024, 60% of industrial organizations will have endpoint data from OT integrated with cloud-based reporting and analytics. This move enables organizations to have a sitewide operation awareness of their environment.
There are few ways in which IT/OT integration is taking form:
This IT/OT alignment is driving a new phase of the Industrial Era:
IT/OT convergence dissolves the air gap that has protected operational technology in the past. When old school machinery is connected to new technologies for more effective tracking and monitoring, they become more vulnerable to modern-day attacks, continually growing in sophistication.
A 2019 study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Armis indicated that 66% of manufactures had encountered an IoT-related security incident in the previous two years.
This study also unveiled IoT security decision makers’ high level of concern regarding:
Manufacturers are more worried about attacks leading to downtime, disruption to business operations and environmental risks, which can all lead to significant financial loss. Such are the national and economic implications of attacks against critical infrastructure that president Joe Biden is making cybersecurity a top priority of his administration.
Attacks against OT environments can cause the shut down of entire assembly plants or critical infrastructure services. Here are some examples of incidents that garnered media attention in 2021:
Traditional OT and IoT devices were not designed with strong built-in safeguards, don’t produce logs, and cannot support the installation of security agents. In other words, they are unmanaged:
The lack of visibility into unmanaged devices is one of the challenges of securing Industry 4.0. Traditional IT security is based on agents to be installed in the endpoints. It’s good for monitoring and protecting managed devices, such as desktops, but it doesn’t work for OT and IoT devices. In addition, network traffic control tools lack a contextual understanding of how unmanaged devices are used.
IT/OT convergence requires a new approach to cybersecurity that gives visibility into unmanaged and IIoT devices. This type of visibility is necessary to know:
As a leader in Industry 4.0, global supply chain company Flex knows well the importance of device visibility for a successful IT/OT implementation. Friedrich Wetschnig, CISO and VP of Enterprise IT at Flex, explains that IT/OT integration enables a holistic view of the factory floor and the KPIs.
To secure its Industry 4.0 initiatives, Flex partnered with Armis to identify, monitor, and protect its digital assets. Our agentless solution is able to track and manage both managed and unmanaged devices. When Armis detects suspicious behavior, it establishes network segmentation to isolate the threat.
“The importance of asset discovery is that you can’t deal with a problem if you don’t know what it’s.”
~ Friedrich Wetschnig, CISO and VP Enterprise IT at Flex
A manufacturer’s IT/OT implementation playbook should consider the following steps:
Knowing what you have on your network is the first step to succeed in this Industry 4.0 era. Organizations need a security platform that works for both managed IT devices and unmanaged OT and IoT devices. All communication pathways that could be explored, such as Bluetooth, Ethernet and Wi-Fi, need to be continuously monitored.
That’s why security solutions for Industry 4.0 need to:
With increased visibility into your environment, it’s time to start mapping the opportunities and challenges that IT/OT convergence brings to your organization. The goal of a cybersecurity framework for IT/OT alignment is to ensure the interoperability and security of all of your company’s digital assets.
Leaders should consider these questions:
Plant managers are the ones who tend to take the initiative to push forward cybersecurity investments because they have a more holistic view of the organization. But IT/OT convergence is also contributing to the creation of new leadership roles.
Gartner predicts that, by 2025, half of manufacturers and utilities will have converged cybersecurity and operations security teams under the role of a chief information security officer (CISO), reporting directly to the CEO. Unified management of OT and IT resources is fundamental to secure all digital assets in IIoT environments.
Investments in technology are both a technical and strategic decision. Industrial modernization involves significant funding and, for this reason, requires alignment between technical staff and the leadership team. It’s crucial to create awareness of the limitations of traditional IT solutions in protecting OT devices, and the impact that cybersecurity breaches could have on production.
Armis works with all devices because it does not use agents and does not perform disruptive network scans. Real-time passive monitoring is critical to avoid system crashes and disruptions. To learn more about how to secure IT & OT in industrial environments with Armis, download our white paper.
Read all of the IT OT Convergence Playbook Chapters:
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