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What to look for in a smart manufacturing cyber security solution

Ben Stewart shares some key findings from the 7th Annual State of Smart Manufacturing Report: Cybersecurity Edition

Automotive manufacturers have faced extreme adversity over the last few years, including the sweeping impact of COVID-19 and the continued chip shortage. To combat these challenges, many automotive manufacturers are turning to smarter manufacturing operations. Smart manufacturing adoption grew by 64% year-on-year among automotive manufacturers, according to 2022 The State of Smart Manufacturing: Automotive Edition report. Another 40% of automotive manufacturers have expressed interest or are actively evaluating solutions for smart manufacturing adoption.

Advancements in smart manufacturing have also improved processes and the ability to respond to market adversity, including increasing cyber security threats. In fact, the report found that 33% of all manufacturers cite cyber security and risk mitigation as a major threat to their growth. Automotive manufacturers in particular view smart manufacturing as vital, with 88% saying it is important to future success.

They are right to be wary.  Cyber security threats are accelerating in manufacturing, with the industry accounting for 65% of all ransomware attacks in 2021. Knowing this, 48% of manufacturers are actively monitoring cyber security to minimise risk, but 61% still don’t have a plan in place for operational disruption.

Smart manufacturing
As smart manufacturing grows, so too does the risk of a cyber attack

Most organisations approach security similarly to how a person might view going to the doctor. While some adhere to regular check-ups to ensure good health and catch potential issues, others opt for the wait-and-see approach. To protect against cyber threats, you must make cyber health a priority.

What to look for when considering smart manufacturing adoption

Smart manufacturing adoption can help achieve security and risk mitigation goals. For example, modern multi-tenant SaaS solutions keep critical company systems up to date, including cyber security systems that are up to date with the latest security provisions, backed by an expert security team whose primary focus is protecting the company and ensuring business continuity.

People are central to managing systems and in turn security risks, which means the team must be informed and invested in cyber security. It’s critical that employees understand these risks—especially with more people working remotely than ever before which increases access points and makes data more accessible—and have enough knowledge and tools to be a first line of defense against and potential target for cyber attacks.

Smart manufacturing adoption grew by 64% year-on-year among automotive manufacturers

Risk mitigation requires resiliency built on constant monitoring and vigilant cyber security. There are several steps that can help address and improve cyber security preparedness. First, identify key stakeholders to gather diverse perspectives and to agree on the greatest needs. Bring in experts if needed to supplement the team’s experience. These stakeholders will be the key players who will develop your new security plan.  Another key step is to make the best business case for investment by highlighting increased control, efficiency, and savings associated with new security adoptions. Then, research and select solution(s) to ensure it meets requirements and business objectives. Online, score-based resources are valuable for manufacturers looking to evaluate their own risk level and that of any vendors they use or are considering.

It’s also important to work with a solution partner that creates a security plan and roadmap with clear expectations and desired outcomes supported by a strong multi-layered security approach. Finally, manage change and drive adoption with sponsorship, messaging, and accountability. A multi-layered defence along with a strong auditing and compliance focus that ensures controls are followed will protect your company.

Monitoring cyber security and having a plan in place for measuring ongoing compliance is vital to all manufacturers. The combination of smart technologies and processes including cloud, modern industrial hardened devices, and automation can deliver the secure environment that manufacturers need. Review the full State of Smart Manufacturing Report here.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.

Ben Stewart is Vice President of Product Strategy at Plex Systems

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