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By Bruce Sussman
Mon | Apr 29, 2019 | 7:43 AM PDT

Making cybersecurity a priority in Industry 4.0.

For manufacturers, cybersecurity is now more important than it has ever been.

That's a bold statement, but we've come across the evidence we need to support it inside some new research by security company Trend Micro.

Industry 4.0 cyber threats

For starters, look at the rise in the number of cyber vulnerabilities reported in manufacturing related equipment since 2010.


In addition to the rising number of vulnerabilities, the risk from cyber threats is becoming more significant as systems and components become interconnected to each other—and to the outside world.

Information technology (IT), operational technology (OT), and intellectual property (IP) assets are becoming integrated.

Trend Micro's report explains how hackers view this:

"... as an opportunity to move laterally across a manufacturing network, jumping across IT and OT systems for their malicious activities. They can take advantage of systems for industrial espionage, IP leakage, or even production sabotage."

In the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, cyber-physical systems (CPSs) combine physical components and digital networks to change how manufacturing companies automate processes and information sharing. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), machine learning, and big data are often part of this shift toward smart factories.

Industry 4.0 and cybersecurity: what hackers want

Many manufacturers still believe they have "nothing of value" that hackers would want, or "no reason to be targeted" by cybercriminals.

However, as discussed above, the increasing connectivity in Industry 4.0 and the value of data within manufacturing networks is like a beacon to hackers:

"But perhaps what makes the manufacturing industry attractive for attackers is the involvement of IP. Malicious actors could be motivated to steal intelligence on processes, products, or technologies in use, which may include blueprints of confidential designs, secret formulas, or detailed assembly processes."

Trend Micro uses the following easy to understand infographic in its report, Securing Smart Factories: Threats to Manufacturing Environments in the Era of Industry 4.0


Industry 4.0 and cybersecurity: vulnerabilities

We won't go into the details here, but Trend Micro's report has fantastic depth and dives into a number of Industry 4.0 cyber threats, including:

  • Longer Equipment Life Cycles
  • Pervasiveness of Network Worms
  • Autorun Detections
  • Targeted and Opportunistic Campaigns Against the Manufacturing Industry
  • OT Network Threats (including ICS vulnerabilities)
  • IP Threats (including malicious CAD files and poor configurations)
  • Underground Activities Related to the Industrial and Manufacturing Sectors

The report also looks at how to limit or mitigate these cyber risks in manufacturing and smart factory environments.

Industry 4.0 and cybersecurity: conclusion

The ultimate story that comes out of the report is this: Industry 4.0 creates more opportunity than ever for manufacturers. 

And Industry 4.0 also creates more opportunity than ever for hackers and cybercriminals.

From a cyber attacker's viewpoint, it's possible manufacturing has never looked this good.

[DOWNLOAD: Industry 4.0 cybersecurity PDF report]

[RELATED: Exposed and Vulnerable in Energy and Water]