Security Considerations for Scalable Predictive Maintenance

09 April 2020

Predictive Maintenance and other connected technologies associated with the smart factory revolution offer huge opportunities for production efficiency and visibility, but they also bring an additional operational risk – security.

Cyber-attacks are increasing, and the manufacturing sector is being hit with data theft, ransoms for access to locked data, machinery downtime, site safety, and build quality threats.

We look at the security considerations organizations should be taking note of when implementing a scalable Predictive Maintenance program.

The importance of security

November 2019 – Pilz, one of the world’s largest producers of automation tools, suffered a ransomware infection which impacted all its locations across 76 countries for more than a week.[1]

July 2018 – A hacker put an airport’s security system access onto the dark web for sale for just $10.[2]

March 2018 – The city of Atlanta was hit by a ransomware attack, holding its online services to ransom for $55,000 in bitcoin. It is reported that the city spent over $2.5 million recovering from the attack.[3]

June 2017 – Ransomware hit Cadbury’s in Australia, after disrupting Evraz and Rosneft steel and oil firms in Russia.[4] The same month, Honda was forced to halt production in one of its factories in Japan after finding WannaCry malware across its international networks, including Japan, North America, Europe and China.[5]

May 2017 - The NHS in the UK was crippled by the WannaCry ransomware, which locked access to files until a ransom was paid. The same ransomware quickly went on to attack several more factories around the world.[6]

Clearly, security cannot be ignored, but it should also not be a reason to halt innovation. Within the manufacturing sector, there is huge opportunity in the use of technology to streamline production for cost savings, increased quality and visibility from start to finish. So, what can be done to minimize the risk of cyberattacks?

Our Security Lead, Harry Rose, has put together some guidance for companies to consider:

1. Assess the risk

Risk assessments are essential when bringing a new piece of technology into a business and should include all touchpoints, passwords, staff access, the movement of data, supplier security, etc.

2. Design from the outset with usable security in mind

Security is much easier to implement when it has been considered from the start. Ideally, it should be as transparent as possible to the users – if it’s doing its job correctly, it won’t be noticed, and if it gets in the way, users will find an easier path.

3. Choose the right supplier for your business

It is critical to have confidence in the supplier and their product. Full system information including security should be available and any concerns or requests should be dealt with efficiently and intelligently. Look for accreditations such as ISO27001 and ISO9001 that show the company has robust information security and quality policies in place.

4. Ensure good encryption

At a minimum, whenever data is transmitted over the cloud, it should be encrypted. Current industry standards recommend TLS1.2 as a cryptographic protocol, and AES-based cipher suites. At rest, sensitive data should also be encrypted, with AES-256 being the current industry recommended algorithm.

5. Keep it simple

Always look for the ‘least exposure’ option. Use firewalls to limit communication between hosts, and to minimize your exposure to external networks. Many companies also separate operational machinery from internal IT networks. Always ask if less contact is possible; this can always be increased over time as confidence grows and opportunities are realized.

6. Consider the potential of the project

The potential opportunity of a project is only there with a degree of freedom and lack of restrictions. While security is critical, it is a balance, and there’s no reason for it to cripple innovation.

7. Create an incident management plan

If an incident does happen, it is important that everyone knows how to respond so the threat can be quickly contained and managed to minimize the impact

8. Continually review security

Security isn’t a one-off job. The threat landscape and best-practice recommendations are always changing. Your security approach must be adaptable and nimble.

Security with Senseye

At Senseye we take data security seriously. Data stored within Senseye is encrypted at rest, and in transport in line with industry-recommended standards.

Senseye PdM is regularly tested and audited by independent security organizations, and in addition, all employees adhere to a set of strict internal security policies covering a range of topics such as data handling, use of equipment and software development to ensure that confidential client data is treated with the appropriate safety and care. Senseye believes in transparency and makes available all results and reports to clients.

Conclusion

Security is a major concern for any business, and it is crucial to put in place a thorough and robust security strategy to minimize the risk of a cyber-attack. However, when a cloud-based Predictive Maintenance solution is designed with security in mind it can be safer than having some third-party software installed inside the network.

Getting full commitment from all stakeholders, internal and external, to ensure continuous improvement, ongoing network monitoring, transparency regarding solution providers’ security arrangements and protecting network access means that risk can be balanced with innovation and opportunity.

Want to find out more about security considerations for scalable Predictive Maintenance? Download our white paper below.

Download the white paper

  1. https://www.zdnet.com/article/major-german-manufacturer-still-down-a-week-after-getting-hit-by-ransomware
  2. https://www.mcafee.com/blogs/consumer/consumer-threat-notices/airport-security-system-dark-web-rdp-shop
  3. https://www.wired.com/story/atlanta-spent-26m-recover-from-ransomware-scare
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/28/petya-cyber-attack-cadbury-chocolate-factory-in-hobart-hit-byransomware
  5. https://www.forbes.com/sites/peterlyon/2017/06/22/cyber-attack-at-honda-stops-production-after-wannacry-worm-strikes
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/12/global-cyber-attack-ransomware-nsa-uk-nhs