Industry 4.0 and cybersecurity

Managing risk in an age of connected production

About the report

In this paper, we examine the production life cycle —from digital supply network, to the smart factory, and finally to the connected object, focusing on the unique cyber risks faced by each. And we explore the actions operations and information security executives can take to anticipate and effectively address cyber risks as well as proactively integrate cybersecurity into their strategy in the age of Industry 4.0.  


Viewpoints / key findings

The interconnected nature of Industry 4.0–driven operations and the pace of digital transformation mean that cyberattacks can have far more extensive effects than ever before. It is important that we balance our focus between the external threat landscape and the very real—and typically overlooked—cyber risks created by businesses who are increasingly using smart, connected technologies to innovate, transform, modernize, and otherwise make tactical or strategic business decisions that could result in such risk.

Thinking about how to address cyber risk at the end of the strategic process is simply likely too late. Cybersecurity should become an integral part of the strategy, design, and operations, considered from the beginning of any new connected, Industry 4.0– driven initiative. Figure 1 displays smart production life cycle and cyber risk.

As the adoption and breadth of use of connected technologies increase, cyber risks may grow and change, and will likely look different for each stage of the value chain and each organization. Each organization should adapt to the industrial ecosystem in the way that best fits their needs. There is no simple fix or single product or patch that an organization can apply to address the cyber risks and threats presented by Industry 4.0. The breadth of risks requires a secure, vigilant, and resilient approach to understand the dangers and address the threats:

  • Be secure. Take a measured, risk-based approach to what is secured and how to secure it. Is your intellectual property safe? Is your supply chain or ICS environment vulnerable?
  • Be vigilant. Continually monitor systems, networks, devices, personnel, and the environment for possible threats. Real-time threat intelligence and AI are often required to understand harmful actions and quickly identify threats across the multitude of new connected devices that are being introduced.
  • Be resilient. An incident could happen. How would your organization respond? How long would it take to recover? How quickly could you remediate the effects of an incident?

As industry moves to capture the business value that comes with Industry 4.0, the need to address the cyber risk landscape with a secure, vigilant, and resilient response has likely never been greater.

Figure 1. Smart production life cycle and cyber risk

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