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Conveyance, warehousing plans involve cyber risks

Sean Peasley Risk & Financial Advisory partner and IoT security leader Deloitte & Touche
By Sean Peasley Risk & Financial Advisory partner and IoT security leader, Deloitte & Touche

FIELD INTELLIGENCE: Smart Processes, Solutions & Strategies

The arrival of COVID-19 onto the global manufacturing landscape has changed operations in a number of important ways. One such way is the need for physical distance between workers on the same production line. To address the current situation, industrial manufacturers are exploring how smart factory solutions, such as automation and digital technologies, can enable compliance with new physical distancing guidelines while maintaining productivity and output. However, these smart factory technologies could inadvertently expose manufacturers to new cyber vulnerabilities.

Deloitte and the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation have been formally studying cybersecurity and associated risks since 2016. Our collaborative studies identified the reality that many manufacturers have had difficulties advancing their cyber risk management capabilities. In fact, manufacturing has been identified as an industry most vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Advanced and emerging digital technologies, including smart factories, are further increasing these vulnerabilities, with potential risks spanning enterprise categories from operational to financial, strategic to compliance.

In Deloitte’s recent report “Cybersecurity for smart factories,” nearly half of manufacturers identified operational risks as the greatest danger to smart factory and digital initiatives.

The risks for cyber-attacks are substantial and can be far-reaching in a smart factory environment, exposing people, technology, physical processes and intellectual property. But there are ways manufacturers can enhance their cyber resilience, not only fighting existing threats but also identifying and mitigating new threats that could be right around the corner.

Manufacturers typically approach digital technologies and smart factory initiatives from a use case perspective, that is, combining advanced technologies with process innovation to address a specific business challenge or opportunity. Considering these use cases from a cybersecurity perspective can provide valuable insights into mitigating current and future potential cyber threats and vulnerabilities.

For example, smart conveyance and smart warehousing solutions are use cases that leverage robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning, natural language processing and artificial intelligence to automate repetitive and time-intensive tasks, especially on the production floor. However, they can also create cyber vulnerabilities, such as unauthorized access, unwarranted bot programs and denial-of-service attacks. Cybersecurity considerations for these technologies can likely include:

  • Confirm there is an accurate inventory of technology assets, along with a process for assessing potential business impact.
  • Employ application white-listing and file integrity monitoring to decrease the risk of malicious code being installed and executed.
  • Correlate internal events with external threat intelligence to enhance organization’s capabilities and tailor risk responses in alignment with criticality and likelihood.

To help manufacturing organizations, our recent smart factory report delves into six common use cases, identifying the threats and vulnerabilities manufacturers should consider and sharing cybersecurity considerations leaders can use to ensure they are protecting factory assets.

Manufacturers can adopt this use-case approach to mitigate risks as they move to add more automation and digital tech to solve for the new normal in a post-COVID-19 production environment.

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