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Security in Manufacturing: A New Paradigm Needed

In the fast-evolving world of manufacturing, the escalation of cyber threats has become a paramount concern, demanding a shift in the industry's approach to security. 

Ransomware: A Persistent Threat

The manufacturing sector is increasingly facing ransomware attacks, which have doubled in frequency, hitting utilities and manufacturing industries the hardest. According to a report by SecurityBrief New Zealand, these sectors are particularly vulnerable due to the critical nature of their services and the potential for significant disruption. The doubling of cyber attacks in these industries highlights the urgency for strengthened cybersecurity measures. Such attacks not only threaten to compromise sensitive data but can also lead to extensive operational disruptions, making companies susceptible to ransom demands.

An example of the impact of these attacks is the cyberattack on Simpson Manufacturing Company. This incident highlights the real-world consequences of ransomware attacks in the manufacturing sector, demonstrating how these incidents can bring substantial production activities to a standstill, compelling companies to address significant security breaches.

Intellectual Property Theft: A Growing Concern

Another critical security issue facing the sector is the theft of intellectual property (IP). This involves the unauthorized acquisition of sensitive data such as product designs, formulas, and customer information. In recent years, there have been notable developments in IP protection and enforcement. For instance, in 2023, the United States saw a substantial increase in enforcement actions against IP theft, with cases initiated against IP theft rising by 21%. These developments highlight the ongoing challenges and the urgent need for robust cybersecurity solutions and stringent access controls to protect IP.

Adapting to New Realities: The Shift Towards OT Security

A significant development in the manufacturing sector is the growing emphasis on Operational Technology (OT) security. This shift reflects a broader realization of the distinct threats and vulnerabilities associated with OT systems. For instance, Radiflow has introduced robust solutions aimed at strengthening OT security in manufacturing and critical infrastructure. Similarly, cooperative efforts are underway to enhance security solutions for OT and Industrial Control Systems (ICS), reflecting a broader industry trend. Additionally, the collaboration between Dragos and Rockwell Automation is a strategic partnership forming to address complex cybersecurity challenges in industrial environments. These developments are not just technological upgrades; they represent a strategic realignment in how the manufacturing sector perceives and responds to cyber threats.

Cloud Computing: A Double-Edged Sword

The adoption of cloud computing in manufacturing, while offering scalability and cost efficiency, has also introduced new cybersecurity challenges. The concentration of sensitive data in the cloud makes it a prime target for cyberattacks. At Authentise, we are aware of these risks, which is why we offer on-premise deployment options. This approach allows businesses to maintain greater control over their data and reduce exposure to cloud-related cyber threats. 

Looking Forward: Enhancing Resilience

In response to these evolving threats, manufacturing companies are re-evaluating their cybersecurity strategies. The introduction of roles like Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) in manufacturing indicates a shift from a traditionally low focus on cybersecurity to making it a core aspect of business strategy. Companies are now more actively investing in cybersecurity solutions, emphasizing the importance of data encryption, backup strategies, and compliance with emerging regulations and standards. These threats are real and ever evolving and the best way to ensure companies can continue to scale in AM despite them are to collaborate. We, at Authentise, work closely with the IT and security teams to identify the best solution for their organization and adjust as those needs change over time.

To emphasize the efforts made towards enhancing resilience, the US Department of Energy in collaboration with the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute have awarded 10 projects a total of $4.8 million in research and development funding that are aimed at strengthening cybersecurity in the US manufacturing sector. 

Authentise was one of the selected projects and was awarded $573,710 to build a secure real-time measurement system specifically to detect if malicious third parties have infiltrated an Additive Manufacturing system to adjust or introduce defects, which would otherwise be undetectable during manufacture. The whole investment is set to revolutionize the industry, making it safer, more energy-efficient, and ready for a sustainable future.

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