Cyber strategies to keep your facility and fleet safe

If you don't know where you're vulnerable, someone else will find out.

By John Rosenberger, The Raymond Corp.

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Collaborate with vendors that offer modular or upgradable applications and network interfacing hardware. When looking for vendors with which to collaborate, make sure their products are contemporary enough to match your and your customers’ technology needs. Progressive manufacturers are creating software and networking equipment to be more modular to meet the changing needs of customers and the evolving demands of the IoT. Modular or upgradable applications and network interfacing hardware can help you address your software issues without necessitating the purchase of a new device or an entirely new machine.

Leverage your vendors’ resources. To help address IoT security threats, manufacturing companies are creating teams that can visit a plant and review the facility’s vulnerabilities to cyberattacks. Based on the assessment, the team can offer recommendations on how to make a plant more secure and discuss best practices for maintaining a level of protection in today’s connected plant.

Conduct an annual review. After you have enlisted the help of an external vendor to perform a comprehensive review of your plant, it’s important to get in the practice of conducting an annual review. To help you focus on key areas that pose a cyber threat, the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) releases a top 10 list each year of application security risks. On the 2017 list, a key area of opportunity for hackers was injection flaws. Injection flaws can occur when untrusted data is sent to an interpreter as a part of a command and the hacker is able to trick the interpreter into executing unauthorized commands.

“Just one virus could disable your entire warehouse system.”

Another data risk for plants is broken authentication, which was No. 2 on the 2017 OWASP list. This can happen when application functions related to authentication and session management are implemented incorrectly. If there is a broken authentication in your software, hackers can compromise passwords, keys, or session tokens or exploit other implementation flaws to gain more access to other users’ and companies’ data – temporarily or permanently.

Understanding leading and evolving cybersecurity threats is essential as you devise and revisit your strategies for mitigating cyber threats.

Educate your team. Now you know how important maintaining a secure plant warehouse is – but your leadership and operators might not. Educate your team about the severity of cyberattacks and best practices to help keep your plant protected.

As data propagation continues to grow thanks to the IoT, the need for contemporary and robust cybersecurity becomes ever more pressing. IoT applications continue to revolutionize the manufacturing industry. We must prepare for the benefits and risks of instant connectivity.

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