As manufacturers around the world analyse and embrace the importance of being more connected to the IIoT, cybersecurity experts caution that the benefits of being interconnected come with a warning, and companies need to protect their plants from being hacked.
This is according to Stefan van de Giessen, general manager: cybersecurity at Networks Unlimited Africa, who adds: “The IIoT allows tools and machinery of all types to be connected to the Internet, bringing major benefits but also risks to the business that, by and large, simply did not exist a decade ago. In South Africa, manufacturing is the fourth-largest contributor to the economy, according to Statistics South Africa, which makes the importance of protecting manufacturing plants and critical infrastructure even higher.
A recent study by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBM IBV) showed that industrial companies are not doing enough to protect their plants from being hacked. The Institute clarified that deploying technologies at a faster pace than securing them can open up an Internet of Threats, and also that for industrial manufacturing, chemical, oil and gas, and utilities, security breaches can lead to wide-scale contamination, environmental disasters, and even personal harm.
“Another IBM IBV research document found that almost 90 percent of the automotive companies surveyed were using these technologies without fully evaluating the risks or preparing effective responses, thereby leaving themselves vulnerable to cyberattacks,” continues Van de Giessen. “I believe we could take this as a proxy for other manufacturing industries, and even if the numbers don’t play out exactly the same, this points to the new reality of the threat of cyberhacking in the manufacturing industry, and the critical need for organisations to protect themselves.”
The Indegy solution
To this end, Networks Unlimited Africa recently partnered with Indegy, a leader in industrial cybersecurity that protects industrial control system networks from cyberthreats, human error and malicious insiders. Networks Unlimited Africa now brings Indegy solutions to South Africa and throughout the continent. “Indegy undertakes to protect industrial control systems from cyberthreats,” elaborates Van de Giessen. “External threats bring the most risk potential. A well-planned cyberattack will usually cause significant destruction, which can include physical damages, financial costs and reputational threats for the business.”
In the manufacturing sector, Indegy was recently involved in securing the scada network of a large cement producer in Israel, which has production sites at different locations. Together, these sites produce about 60 percent of the cement used by Israel’s construction industry. With the introduction of connected technologies, Nesher realised that its scada network could potentially be exposed to cyberthreats that could jeopardise the safety and productivity of its factories. Therefore, determined to reduce risk and also minimise production downtime, the management team chose Indegy after deciding to invest in a dedicated industrial cybersecurity solution.
Nesher CISO Roy Shalev elaborates: “With cement furnaces operating round the clock at 1200°C, Nesher’s most important operational concern is safety. The furnaces and other critical equipment are managed by industrial controllers, which, if compromised by a cyberattack, could lead to an explosion and possible loss of life. From a business standpoint, a cybersecurity event in Nesher’s scada environment could bring cement production to a halt. Such an incident would cause a major cement shortage in Israel’s construction market, as well as revenue losses of millions of dollars and reputational damage.”
Nesher required full visibility of its complex scada network, together with real-time 24/7 alerts on any changes to its controllers. This level of visibility is crucial for enabling early detection of security risks before they have a chance to impact on productivity or safety. The system implemented by Indegy offers maximum visibility using proprietary technology that actively queries devices in Nesher’s industrial environment, ensuring that its scada engineers are aware of all changes to all assets in the environment. Additionally, the Indegy user interface design makes it easy for Nesher’s engineers to control traffic and operations in the network, while the accuracy of the alerts means that the security analysts can focus their efforts on investing real threats, with a minimum of false positives.
“A solution like Indegy allows security operators and engineers alike the comfort of knowing that their plant is protected from cybersecurity threats according to the highest standards available,” concludes Van de Giessen.
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