IoT Security is More Important than Ever for Manufacturers

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been receiving the lion’s share of hype in the news recently. However, an older technology continues to be pivotal for manufacturers. Internet of Things (IoT) devices are present throughout the manufacturing supply chain, and their presence will increase.

The rapid adoption of IoT has led to an exponential rise in the amount of data companies collect. As with everything to do with data, security has become paramount and companies must act quickly to secure their systems.

Here’s why IoT security is more important than ever and what manufacturers can do to ensure their data is safe.

Securing revenue

IoT is an integral part of the manufacturing supply chain and is pivotal to revenue. For instance, IoT devices on assembly lines monitor usage and automatically trigger maintenance requests. These processes ensure optimal manufacturing times that support just-in-time supply chain models.

Any compromise in this delicate system will result in substantial losses for manufacturers since just-in-time systems have very little room for error. For instance, a fault in a manufacturing device could delay production by a few hours but has knock-on effects on inventory management, procurement, and raw material deliveries. 

These delays compound, leading to substantial losses for manufacturers. IoT devices must be secured with the latest cybersecurity tools. For instance, all data must be encrypted to avoid hackers infiltrating the device. In addition, IoT devices must implement strong identity management protocols to verify which parties are accessing data.

Cybersecurity teams must monitor the physical usage of devices too. IoT devices tend to operate in uncontrolled environments where physical damage is likely to occur. Any hardware damage can induce security risks, and manufacturers must keep a close watch on these incidents.

Ensuring compliance

Regulatory action is a constant risk for manufacturers present in sensitive industries. For instance, manufacturers supplying material to be used in defense industries or high-tech engineering firms must abide by a stringent set of data privacy and security laws. Failure to comply could put the company out of business.

While a business might overcome the financial penalties of a violation, overcoming reputational damage is far more challenging. Customers are unlikely to trust a company that has fallen foul of regulatory rules. Concerns around data privacy in these sectors, given the political environment, are extremely serious.

IoT security is therefore pivotal to the smooth functioning of such businesses. Understanding data flow in and out of these devices is critical to securing them. Data can be at rest or in motion, generally. However, with IoT the volumes of data at rest or in motion are critical. Some devices might be robust enough to secure large volumes of data at rest.

However, other devices in the network might not possess such capabilities, making data storage and transmission crucial. Companies must examine their encryption standards and network endpoints. endpoint detection and response or EDR security systems are essential to IoT security, as a consequence.

Companies must also continuously validate their security postures by testing their defenses in controlled conditions. For instance, security teams can simulate attacks against their systems to check for gaps. By mimicking the actions of a malicious actor, security teams can find weaknesses without risk, ultimately building resilience in their systems.

Protecting intellectual property

IoT involves several advanced technological elements. These days, many IoT devices come equipped with proprietary or third-party AI engines to smooth decision-making. While this technology ensures impressive performance, it also creates significant risks for a company.

Manufacturers spend significant resources developing technology to boost their business, and securing this IP is critical. With the introduction of AI, companies must also examine the decision-making ability of their devices to ensure none of them have been compromised.

Examining command sequences is critical in this context. For instance, a device that triggers workflows on the assembly line must deliver commands based on sound data. While examining the logical flow of these processes is challenging, companies can shortcut this process by securing data sources and enforcing encryption on data in motion.

Establishing good data governance principles is also critical to success. For instance, metadata management plays a critical role when dealing with the vast quantities of data an IoT device produces. Manufacturers must enforce these principles and educate employees on the importance of data management.

Security education programs are essential in this regard. Companies must aim to teach their employees new behavior instead of merely making them aware of security threats. Using a security simulation platform to train employees is the right approach in this situation.

These platforms give employees, even non-technical ones, the opportunity to test their skills against real-world threats in a safe environment. Companies can even tailor learning paths to ensure employees receive skills upgrades based on their technical abilities, instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach.

IoT security is critical

Manufacturers use a range of advanced technology to produce goods, and IoT is perhaps the most advanced of them all. Security is critical to modern manufacturing success, and it begins with IoT systems. By guaranteeing IoT security, manufacturers can ensure their revenues increase and their business is future-proofed.

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