May 16, 2020

How manufacturers can build lasting cyber resilience

Cyber Security
Connected Manufacturing
Chris Goettl, Security Evangel...
4 min
cyber resilience
Manufacturing bosses today face an unprecedented threat to their organisation. It’s not Brexit. It’s not skills shortages. It’s not even from disr...

Manufacturing bosses today face an unprecedented threat to their organisation. It’s not Brexit. It’s not skills shortages. It’s not even from disruptive competition. It’s the risk of cyber-attack. The unfortunate consequences for manufacturers who embark on digital transformation efforts, is that they’ll become increasingly exposed to information theft, sabotage and damaging service outages.

Yet with the right strategic approach founded on industry best practices, there’s much that manufacturers can do right now to build greater resilience and reduce their attack surface.

Manufacturers under pressure

Digital transformation is driving a new industrial revolution, with manufacturing one of the key sectors already benefitting. The rush towards data-driven systems combining IoT smart sensors, cloud-based analytics, storage and management, and other technologies including virtual reality, AI and robotics offers tantalising benefits. Smart factories could help drive new productivity and efficiency benefits, cutting costs and improving business agility in the process. It’s no surprise that manufacturing was the leading global industry in terms of IoT investment in 2017 ($183bn) and is expected to hold this position until 2021, according to IDC.

But here’s the problem. As manufacturers become more dependent on digital systems, there are more opportunities for hackers. For one thing, there are more endpoints — computers, mobile devices, and IoT systems — connected to the public internet, where attackers can probe vulnerabilities in their software. The end goal might be theft of sensitive IP or customer data, extortion via ransomware, or even to sabotage manufacturing processes by hijacking IoT devices and industrial control systems.

A study by EEF earlier this year had some concerning findings. Nearly half (48%) of manufacturers polled said they’d suffered a cyber incident in the past, with a quarter (24%) claiming losses as a result. A further 45% claimed they don’t have access to the right security tools.

It doesn’t help that many firms may be running a patchwork of security products from multiple vendors. Hackers are past masters at finding the gaps between different solutions. Sometimes the gaps exist in the increasingly complicated supply chains manufacturers must manage. That’s how the infamous NotPetya ransomware first spread — via infected accounting software used by Ukrainian businesses.

See also

Focus on patching

Focusing more effort on effective cybersecurity should therefore be a no-brainer. Security is a vital pre-requisite for digital transformation and competitive advantage. It’s also increasingly demanded by regulators, like those monitoring GDPR compliance. And it’s a growing requirement of partners and customers. Over half (59%) of respondents to the EFF poll said they’ve been asked by a customer to demonstrate or guarantee the robustness of their cybersecurity processes.

The good news is that effective cybersecurity comes down to getting the basics right. That means starting off by protecting software with regular patching. Given that it’s designed by humans, it’s impossible to develop software 100% error-free: that means there will always be vulnerabilities in it for the bad guys to exploit. The older the software, the more chance these flaws will be uncovered and exposed — but even newer systems are at risk if you don’t keep them up-to-date. WannaCry and NotPetya flourished because organisations didn’t apply a patch already provided by Microsoft.

Cornwall-based Bott Ltd— a leading manufacturer of workshop and in-vehicle equipment and workplace storage solutions — offers a great example of how to get started. With 10,000 customers worldwide, its large fleet of workstations and servers needed protecting. UK government customers also demanded compliance with security standard Cyber Essentials, which advocates a best practice approach to patching. 

Bott chose Ivanti Patch for Windows for hassle-free, centralised patch distribution every fortnight. A central console scans for new and/or any missing patches and displays relevant information such as security bulletin name and affected files. IT admins are alerted which OS and application patches have become available since the last update and the solution prioritises critical patches, setting distribution for after work hours so staff productivity is not impacted. All endpoints on all sites are covered, with bandwidth consumption minimised because Patch for Windows only downloads updates once.

Patch for Windows provides granular visibility to Bott Ltd on exactly which apps and versions are running across its Microsoft estate. It will even spot any unauthorised app downloads and provide remediation. That’s functionality which has freed up the firm’s IT staff to focus on more strategic tasks, whilst enhancing overall security and compliance.

A layered approach

Patching is a vital first step for any manufacturer serious about minimising cyber risk. But it’s not the only necessary step, especially if patching is impossible due to compatibility issues with legacy systems. As part of a layered approach, organisations should therefore also consider application whitelisting and privilege management to block applications that don’t get patched. Layer up further with user education to spot phishing attacks, properly configured Windows firewalls to help to prevent the spread of ransomware, and more.

The thriving cybercrime economy has made it cheap and easy for virtually anyone to launch attacks against any organisation connected to the internet. Defence-in-depth, beginning with patch management like Bott Ltd, is the best way to fight back.

Share article

Jun 17, 2021

Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router

Siemens
5G
IIoT
Data
3 min
Siemens’ first industrial 5G router, the Scalancer MUM856-1, is now available and will revolutionise the concept of remote control in industry

Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age. 

 

Siemens Enables 5G IIoT

The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). 

Siemens presents its first industrial 5G router.
Siemens presents the Scalance MUM856-1.

The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.

 

Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance

 

  • Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
  • The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
  • A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
  • Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites

 

5G Now

“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.

 

Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said. 

 

Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future

Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’ 

 

And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.

 

The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.

 

Share article