Safeguarding against the increasing operational attacks to manufacturers
Events over the past year have revealed just how enormous the potential cost – both reputationally and financially – of suffering a major security breach can be. No industry, including manufacturing, can afford not to take their data protection and cyber security seriously, or indeed make it a number one priority.
In fact, with our latest report revealing a fifth of the UK public believe cyber-crime and hacking are the biggest challenges facing the UK today, every single manufacturer has an obligation to make data protection as much of a priority as the public expects.
Although organisational awareness is on the rise, it is clear many still struggle to put in place the right measures to safeguard employees, customers and the broader business.
A changing landscape for manufacturers
Whilst it is of course important for security measures to be heavily placed on customer breaches – many organisations are forgetting the increasing threat of operational breaches.
As we move into the Industry 4.0 era – for example, through the deployment of smart factories – manufacturers are exploiting more data from their production systems, extending out the enterprise to be able to connect to the end customer.
And as the manufacturing industry moves into this digital age, many are focusing their efforts on selling a ‘service’ rather than a product.
Take Rolls-Royce as a prime example of this. Well known for their jet turbines, they do not consider themselves an organisation that ‘sells engines’. Instead, with their power-by-the-hour offering, they take the responsibility for service planning and performance off the customer. In doing so, the company is able to record and analyse huge volumes of data meaning they can offer customers better and more comprehensive service agreements.
The increasing risk of operational attacks
In the advent of ‘smarter’ products, there is an increasing opportunity for hackers to either steal or plant false data on the effectiveness of a company’s productivity. For instance, competitors could inject false data into a system to make it look like it had a fault – this in turn incurring costs for the wider business.
An example of this was the infamous virus Stuxnet worm attack on an Iranian nuclear plant almost a decade ago. The first worm of its type, it was capable of attacking critical infrastructure like power stations and electricity grids, rather than simply hijacking targeted computers or stealing information from them. It escaped the digital realm to wreak physical destruction on equipment the computers controlled. Once inside the computer system, Stuxnet searched for software that controlled machines called centrifuges.
The disruption was first noticed when inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency detected that centrifuges used to enrich uranium gas were failing at an unprecedented rate. The cause is still a complete mystery today but was reported to have arrived at the plant via an infected USB stick.
Interestingly, it was only recently that IBM announced plans to ban employees from using removable memory devices such as USB sticks, SD card sand flash drives in a bid to reduce the chances of malicious software or sensitive data being extracted from the company.
One thing is clear; cyber security protection is no longer just about monitoring customer data. Operational hacks are having a fundamental impact on the way an organisation’s product, service or factory works. And with the move towards smart factories, we’re now seeing the growing impact that cyber criminals could have through to the cyber security weak points in an organisation’s sensors.
So, how can manufacturers best safeguard themselves against operational attacks?
As the threat landscape continues to evolve, all organisations – including manufacturers – need to be more proactive in their approach to addressing the likelihood of operational attack to their business.
And there are some relatively simple actions to do exactly this.
Foremost, there are a number of products, policies and processes that can be put in place to give organisations the right level of defence against any impeding attacks.
For instance, as machine learning algorithms have the ability to learn from data and make predictions based on that data. Implementing such algorithms can offer companies with a simple yet effective approach for detecting any anomalies.
The second is all about upskilling talent. With employees on the front line of this battle, more must be done to improve user awareness and training in the potential threats to the operational side of the business. Upskilling employees and making them more cyber aware is one of the most cost effective ways of reducing the probability and impact of human error.
By adopting a two-pronged approach; complementing employee training and awareness with continued investment in technical and security controls, manufacturers can be on the front foot for proactively identifying and managing threats instead of waiting for breaches to happen.
Graeme Wright is the CTO for Manufacturing, Utilities, and Services at Fujitsu UK and Ireland
Lion Electric to Construct US EV Manufacturing Facility
Who is Lion Electric?
Founded in 2008, is an innovative manufacturer of all-electric, zero-emissions, medium and heavy-duty urban vehicles. Lion Electric designs, manufactures, and assembles all components for its vehicles that have unique features specifically adapted to the users and their needs. “We believe that transitioning to all-electric vehicles will lead to major improvements in our society, environment and overall quality of life,” believes Lion Electric.
Lion Electric’s new Illinois Manufacturing Facility
Just two months after announcing plans to construct a battery manufacturing plant and innovation centre in Quebec, Lion Electric is expanding its locations further, selecting Joliet, Illinois for its new manufacturing facility in the US.
The new facility is said to “represent the largest dedicated production site for zero-emission medium and heavy-duty vehicles in the US,” as well as being the company’s biggest footprint in the market. The new facility will give Lion Electric the capacity to meet increasing demand for ‘Made in America’ zero-emission vehicles and bring production closer to customers.
It is expected that the first vehicles off the production line will be in the second half of 2022.
“Lion’s historic investment to bring its largest production facility to Illinois represents not only a win for our communities, but a strong step forward in our work to expand clean energy alternatives and the jobs they bring to our communities,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
“The new Joliet facility will put Illinois at the forefront of a national movement to transition to zero-emission vehicle use, advancing our own goals of putting one million of these cars on the road by 2030. In Illinois, we know that a clean energy economy is about more than just vehicles – it’s about healthier communities and jobs for those who live there. We are excited to welcome Lion to the Land of Lincoln and look forward to their future success here.”
Lion Electric’s Agreement with the Government of Illinois
Over the next three years, Lion Electric will invest a minimum of US$70mn into Illinois. The new facility - totalling 900,000 square feet - is expected to create a minimum of 745 clean energy direct jobs in the next three years, and have an annual production capacity of up to 20,000 all electric buses and trucks.
Scaling electric bus production and decarbonising freight and transportation
As the US moves to electrifying its school buses, the additional production capacity at the facility will help Lion Electric to scale its electric bus production, as well as produce an increased volume of heavy-duty zero-emission trucks to help governments and operators in the US further the decarbonisation of freight and transportation fleets.
“Lion is the leader in electric school buses and has always been dedicated to the U.S. market, and our commitment to be close to our customers is one of the core values we have as a company. This significant expansion into the U.S. market will not only allow us to drastically increase our overall manufacturing capacity of electric trucks and buses but to also better serve our customers, while adding critical clean manufacturing jobs that will form the backbone of the green economy,” said Marc Bedard, CEO and Founder of Lion.
“I also want to acknowledge the crucial role that P33 and Intersect Illinois, civic groups committed to developing developing a long-term roadmap for the local tech industry, played in connecting Lion with the Chicago area’s business and civic community to help further commercial traction, as well as engagement with key workforce and supplier partners.”