Securing IoT Devices in a Manufacturing Environment

by | Nov 19, 2020 | Security | 0 comments

Smart manufacturing, increased automation, lowered costs; IoT offers manufacturers alluring efficiencies and greatly expands the efficiency, quality, and speed of production.

Still, such benefits don’t come without risk. According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), more than 1200 OT system-related vulnerabilities exist, coming from over 300 original equipment manufacturers (OEM).

You need to safeguard your customers and private information, secure your devices, and ultimately protect your brand while still reaping all of the benefits of IoT. Here’s how.

Why IoT Manufacturers Are at Risk 

It’s important to stress the additional risks associated with cybersecurity threats in industrial environments. Primarily, the misuse or compromise of industrial equipment can lead to severe consequences, putting workers in danger, potentially halting production, causing delays in the supply chain, and impacting product quality.

And since manufacturers typically have a much higher volume of such devices, their exposure to risk is much broader. Many of these devices are sensor-based, providing limited ability to leverage traditional protective solutions such as antivirus and encryption.

Perform a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

A comprehensive risk assessment is the first step towards mitigating the threats inherent in an IOT manufacturing environment.

For this, companies (and many cybersecurity experts) often leverage NIST’s cybersecurity maturity framework, which tracks an organization’s progress towards the mitigation of all existing vulnerabilities, and the development of its cybersecurity practices towards a goal state.

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework provides excellent guidance on performing a risk assessment. One survey from Tenable Network Security reported that 70% of polled organizations considered NIST’s framework a security best practice.

Note that we follow NIST’s framework that requires technological investment. Following NIST guidance will help us to:

  1. Gain a clear understanding of your current cybersecurity posture.
  2. Target new goals for a specific and holistic state of cybersecurity preparedness.
  3. Use continuous and repeatable processes to find and prioritize opportunities for improvement.
  4. Determine a path of advancement towards the new goal state.
  5. Keep your internal and external stakeholders aware of cybersecurity risks.

Viewed together, these five functions show a high-level view of your organization’s current cybersecurity posture and provide a map towards holistic preparedness.

Endpoint Protection for IoT Devices 

Traditional signature-based antivirus and anti-malware software has gone to the wayside, as it alone can only identify a fraction of advanced attacks. And considering the spread and volume of IoT devices, it’s vital to protect them with holistic, advanced security.

Chief among the most significant areas of security vulnerabilities is the visibility and control of network endpoints. Despite the considerable growth and availability of endpoint security systems, much of the business world has been slow to adapt.

For instance, 20 percent of enterprises reported IoT devices to be the most “poorly supervised” asset, above all other assets, according to Spanaseer Security Leader’s Peer Report. And it’s easy to see why some might lose track. Some may accidentally leave some devices out of inventory records due to a rapid pace of IoT adoption, others may lose track of older and less frequently used devices, and many IT departments simply aren’t staffed to manually track all IoT devices.

Regardless, manufacturers must opt for a security platform that offers endpoint protection and endpoint monitoring. Automated solutions can reduce the operating cost of security and automatically surface any issues the moment they’re detected.

IoT promises a range of innovations that will prove revolutionary for the manufacturing industry. The risks IoT devices pose are not insignificant, but those willing to confront such threats gain a profound early-adopter advantage over their more cautious competition.

Getting Started With an Expert

Manufacturing companies unsure of how to incorporate IoT devices into their environment securely may consider partnering with an MSP with manufacturing experience. Peters & Associates, for example, has experience working with both manufacturing companies and IoT device security. They understand the ins and outs of the manufacturing and IT industries and can help you secure and optimize your manufacturing environment. As a CompTIA Security+ Trustmark holder, Peters & Associates has the experience and knowledge to help your organization be DFARS compliant. Learn more about Peters’ services for manufacturers:

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