Manufacturing Analytics: a Growing Vulnerability for Cyberattacks on Industrial Enterprises

Growing vulnerabilities on manufacturing

AGC Partners recently released an in-depth report detailing the growing market for manufacturing analytics, and the companies that currently make up its booming ecosystem. The subject is timely, as advancements in the Industrial Internet of things (IIoT), Big Data, and Machine Learning have opened the door for manufacturers to embrace manufacturing analytics, particularly, process optimization and predictive maintenance.

The report, titled “Taking Big Data from the Carpet to the Concrete,” proposes that manufacturing analytics is no longer simply a support function focused on costs , but rather, has quickly proved to be a strategic capability impacting revenue and “determining future competitiveness across a wide range of industries including energy, transportation, infrastructure, HVACR and manufacturing.”

It further posits that manufacturing analytics’ two primary use cases (process optimization and predictive maintenance) will generate value that could reach the trillions by 2025. It’s no wonder that major IT and OT players are jostling for space in this market. In fact, in 2016 alone we saw GE acquire ServiceMax for $915M, Bit Stew for $153M, and Meridium for $495M.

No advancement without security

Marketing analytics’ entire process of advancement and market development is fascinating, but requires serious considerations towards OT cybersecurity- a field that is less developed than IT, though the risks involved are more extreme. Risks in OT environments stem primarily from an industrial control system (ICS) being compromised, and can range from production manipulation (e.g. damaging product quality/ equipment or facility downtime)to threats to human safety. A remote cyberattack can enter via a corporate network and make its way to industrial networks.  In cases such as these, prevention of threats is paramount to detection.

Additionally, manufacturing analytics has made the move to the cloud, which comes with its own vulnerabilities and benefits. The cloud offers high efficiency and data across multiple factories, but also increases cybersecurity attack surfaces dramatically and opens paths for attackers to enter industrial networks. Therefore, extreme caution and careful planning must be taken not to increase vulnerabilities.

A timely partnership                            

After a decade of securing ICS networks in IT/OT integration and cloud environments, Waterfall welcomes these insights from AGC. In the report’s section addressing cybersecurity solutions for IIoT and the Cloud, AGC’s report highlights Waterfall’s partnership with intelligence-led security company FireEye to deploy FireEye’s cloud-based Threat Analytics Platform (TAP) for use with industrial networks via the Unidirectional CloudConnect to ensure the safety and reliability of industrial control systems from remote cyberattacks.

Waterfall’s Unidirectional CloudConnect product utilizes unidirectional security technology, hardware-enforced protection, to enable safe and reliable integration for industrial control systems in a cloud environment. It also provides real-time translation of industrial systems, formats and protocols to cloud-friendly formats used in industrial cloud platforms such as GE Predix and Microsoft Azure.

Waterfall’s Unidirectional CloudConnect integrated with FireEye’s TAP eliminates external networks as threats to ICS networks, and enables security teams to monitor and protect ICS networks. It’s a positive sign that in conjunction with the discussion of the manufacturing analytics market, the associated cybersecurity risks are receiving attention. There’s a bright future for this market, and with the foundation already laid for OT-oriented cybersecurity, we look forward to seeing it thrive without fear of remote attacks.

If you’d like to read AGC’s report, click here.

Courtney Schneider
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