Cisco Canada Blog

Manufacturers, don’t Choose Your Own Cybersecurity Adventure

March 27, 2017

The introduction of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to the plant floor has created new challenges for Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) professionals. It’s an issue I wrote about recently in the hopes of bridging that digital divide.

The truth is there are many reasons why IT and OT leaders need to come together. But cybersecurity should be the first.

Manufacturing leaders often underestimate the importance of cybersecurity on the plant floor, a fact proven in PLANT Magazine’s 2017 Outlook report. In the annual survey, 17% of Canadian manufacturers admitted they have not taken any steps to defend against cyberattacks. None.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Almost 20% of Canadian manufacturers are completely unprepared for a cyberattack – at their own choosing. It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that the Cisco 2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report revealed that Canadian organizations rank second-to-last in security capability maturity. In fact, across all industries, our organizations are not nearly prepared to deal with dynamic cybersecurity threats.

Add to this the complexity of digitally securing a production facility or shop floor, and it is easy to understand why Canadian manufacturers want to believe cyberattacks are not a threat. And while I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, the fact is that manufacturers have been, and will continue to be, the target of cyberattacks.

The good news is that securing the plant floor does not need to be complicated. Manufacturers simply need to Prepare, Assess and Build.

Step One: Prepare

It is important for manufacturers to develop a security framework that aligns, and prioritizes, their business and security needs. The first step is to ask specific questions about your physical and cybersecurity capabilities. By understanding capabilities and potential gaps in security processes, technologies and practices, manufacturers can better understand what cybersecurity solutions their network – and plant floor – require.

Step Two: Assess

Although there is no cybersecurity silver bullet, there are trusted partners who can review a manufacturer’s current infrastructure and make recommendations to help the company achieve its security goals. At Cisco, we offer Security Assessments that do just this (learn about them now). We help manufacturer’s find the solution that is right for their organization.

Step Three: Build

Prior to implementation, manufacturers (and their selected vendor) need to build a security strategy and plan. This plan should include both cybersecurity and technology elements as well as physical security processes and best practices. This is your roadmap to ensure projects have measureable goals, define the expected Return on Investment (ROI) and stay on time and budget.

When it comes to cybersecurity on the plant floor, doing nothing is no longer an option for Canadian manufacturers. The convergence of IT and operational networks has highlighted the risks of legacy control systems – already in place on the plant floor – that were never designed with cybersecurity in mind.

It’s time to manufacture your future with a secure IT network. Get started with us today.

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