We are entering a phase in technology where everything is connected. The Internet of Things (IoT) is engulfing modern life with everything from our homes to our cars to parking meters. With this integration becoming commonplace, there needs to be an emphasis on ensuring the proper security systems are in place.
When discussing Operational Technology, controlling or modifying processes, it is not as simple as merely adapting one procedure from Information Technology, but that does not mean that they need to remain separate, though.
In fact, now more than ever, it requires working together to discover the proper solutions for ensuring that there is a streamlined transition from the traditional workings of Operational Technology towards the OT of the future.
Linking machines to one another and programming them to communicate can introduce an entirely different dimension to the manufacturing process. There will be the opportunity for Smart Analytics and optimization of manufacturing procedures. Machines will be able to understand the efficiency processes and provide information to businesses through these embedded technologies.
From this, companies will have the opportunity to adapt their methods to become even more efficient and modify processes for better, more reliable and cost-effective production.
However, as with anything becoming entwined with technology, there is always the potential for hacking. Recent incidents have proven there is no organisation too large to be exempt from breaches.
It is because of this that undertaking cybersecurity measures for Operational Technology must be considered. In a workplace with heavy machinery and a large number of workers, ensuring their protection should be a number one priority. Data protection is one thing, but the physical safety of workers is a different beast.
Worker protection in manufacturing is not a new issue, but as technology evolves there needs to be an emphasis on avoiding any disasters for individuals through avoiding attempted hijacking of machines by third parties that could cause injury or worse.
It is not just worker protection that should be at the forefront of everybody’s mind. Companies will want to keep their workers safe, of course, but during downtime, where the lights are off and there is little need for any human presence, the threat of breaches still looms.
Malicious organisations could look to exploit gaps in the security system should they be allowed the opportunity. This can have disastrous effects on the manufacturing process. It could halt production, make changes to orders, or even result in faulty or dangerous products which issues may not even be recognisable until the consumer suffers injury later down the line.
To solve such potential issues, it means there needs to be a collaboration between IT and OT. It means that the proper measures must be undertaken should manufacturers want to ensure that they are able to move into the future of production along with other industries.
This can be achieved through proper encryption, legitimate authentication of services and a focus on being as diligent as possible with the kind of data that is collected to maximise the effect of the analysis.
It is essential that companies understand that while integration with IoT can aid their endeavours, they must also recognise the risks involved and take measures to limit the potential for hazards to occur.