5 Ways to Mitigate Cybersecurity Risks in Smart Manufacturing

 Cybersecurity Risks in Smart Manufacturing

The booming growth of the information technology has led to digital transformation in manufacturing characterized by vast digitalization of production systems, logistical solutions, and business processes. A part of this trend is the emergence of smart factories that employ programmable controllers, IoT devices, robots, digital control systems, and integrated corporate networks that dramatically increase the output and efficiency, but also undermine the security of production.    

In fact, the manufacturing industry is the third industry most targeted by cybercriminals, and a project SHINE carried out in 2014 revealed a staggering number of 500,000 manufacturing devices that could be accessed via the internet. Thus, it looks like manufacturing is the industry, which is the least prepared for handling security in the digital age. 

Let us review the security threats putting smart manufacturing at risk and the ways to safeguard from them.  

Smart Manufacturing: Security Threats 

Before the rise of smart factories, the security of manufacturing has been achieved with the help of physical isolation implemented on the basis of strict access rights management. Now, the core part of factory networks is connected to wider corporate systems and wireless networks. This makes manufacturing devices accessible to unauthorized individuals and exposes factories to cyberattacks. 

Such cyberattacks often pursue one of these three goals: 

  • Stealing personal details of end clients 

Now, companies often use unified integrated CRM for managing suppliers, logistics providers, retailers, and other stakeholders. Criminals exploit this connection to steal personal details. This happened in 2013 in America, where attackers gained access to the operational system of Target through their heating and air conditioning supplier. The access breach allowed to steal personal details of 70 to 110 million people.  


  • Disruption of work 


Disruption to work of manufacturers may cause dramatic losses, which makes many eager to pay high ransomware to be able to return to normal operations. Even if a manufacturer can recover without paying a ransom, the losses associated with hackers’ attacks are huge. For example, a pharmaceutical company Merck lost over $135 million in sales and $175 million in additional costs due to the NotPetya cyberattack

  • Industrial espionage and sabotage  

Technological vulnerabilities may be also used to steal intellectual property and, thus, gain a competitive advantage over competitors. Similarly, a cyberattack can be used to lower the impact of a leading competitor or undermine his reputation. For example, oil production companies that were stolen legal and financial information in a cyberattack took it as a way to sabotage their planned business deals.      

In each case, the stakes are high and manufacturers should do everything possible to mitigate the risks associated with digital transformation in manufacturing. 

Best Practices of Manufacturing Cyber Security 

Manufacturing Cyber Security


To secure connected manufacturing systems, it is important to invest in both preventative measures and active defense: cryptographic countermeasures, systems of intrusion detection, proactive staff training and well-though incident management. Let us review these in more detail. 

Follow the regulations  

‘Static defense’ in understood as compliance with industry standards and regulations. While regulations aim to strengthen security, they sometimes pose an undue burden on organizations. As a result, heavy regulations can make companies create vulnerabilities in an attempt to bypass demanding regulatory requirements. Think twice before contemplating such a solution on your own smart factory.  

Implement encryption and strict access control 

Digitalization is simultaneously a problem and a solution, as a variety of IT solutions are developed specifically to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of the data that can be accessed through corporate systems. These include:

  • Symmetric encryption algorithms
  • Hybrid encryption schemes 
  • Cryptographic hash functions 
  • Digital signatures
  • Public key infrastructure (PKI)
  • Key distribution protocols for identity and context-based access control 

Use Intrusion Detection Systems 

Smart factories need to have systems that would dynamically react to any abnormal behavior and thus prevent the intrusion attempts coming both from outside and inside the organizational network. These systems may be:

  • Network-based – running on each IoT node 
  • Knowlege-based – using knowledge of previous attacks and vulnerabilities to predict new ones
  • Behavior-based – using machine learning to spot abnormal behavior     

Prevent Human Factor 

Manufacturing Cyber Security 

Hire skilled security personnel and hold regular security training to all the employees. Make sure they understand security policies in place and carefully track compliance with security protocols – if this is not made, vulnerabilities due to human factor are inevitable. Robust staff training and intrusion prevention systems are needed to safeguard the factory from both deliberate insider attacks and falling victim to social engineering methods like phishing attacks.         

Have a Response and Recovery Plan in Place 

You can never go wrong if you follow a good old principle: hope for the best, plan for the worst. Once the successful attack does happen, the overall recovery will depend on your ability to respond to the incident and resume operations as soon as possible. Immediate response is only possible if you have a respective plan in place. Thus, having one will have a dramatic impact on minimizing losses to production, equipment, and reputation.  

FPT Software has much experience developing manufacturing IT solutions that help to achieve operational excellence while maintaining a high level of security of a smart factory. Reach out to us to discuss possible partnership opportunities.