Major industry developments are coming in waves. And just like surfing, catching a wave requires knowledge, skill and the right equipment. The fourth big wave is now coming towards us at full speed. How do you prepare yourself, your organisation and your industrial IT network to safely surf this next wave?
Experts and trend watchers agree: the fourth wave is upon us. This fourth wave is called “Industry 4.0”. This new phase will see machines and other means of production supplemented with intelligence, communicating with each other, and being interconnected. The so-called Internet of Things allows sensors and smart machines to collect valuable data in the production process. For example, they can collect data about wear level of parts, measured temperature, or simply the number of goods produced.
IT and OT
IT systems collect and analyse the data, and then, for example, combine it with data from ERP systems. In short, the world of OT (Operational Technology) is increasingly linked directly to IT (Information Technology).
This combination of both worlds offers many advantages. Monitoring purposes are obvious. But smart planning of preventive maintenance before failures occur is another. The possibilities can go much further. Forerunners in the industry can create fully automatic production lines with smart machines and robots that can control and adjust themselves based on data. And they can do this without any human intervention whatsoever.
This close connection between IT and OT also creates new risks. Risks that cannot be underestimated. Production machines accessible to IT systems via remote connections are also accessible to people with less than honourable intentions.
The possible consequences for the manufacturing industry are disastrous. A hacked machine can literally bring a production line to a screeching and grinding halt. Utility companies particularly, for example, are in the firing line. It does not take much imagination to predict the possible consequences of a hacker taking control of the systems in a nuclear power plant or drinking water treatment plant.
Big waves? No excuse
Grab your board. Big waves are no excuse for not getting out to surf. In fact; they offer opportunities for a better experience than calm rippling water. The same goes for Industry 4.0. The risks of the fourth wave cannot be underestimated. The secret of enjoying success with that wave is to take a “frontside” approach to it – to face up to it. Be aware of the risks, make sure you have the right equipment, and get yourself in the right mindset.
My advice to avoid security wipe outs in your digital factory:
What does that mean in practice? First of all, IT and OT must work together. This may be a culture shock for some organisations. Previously, these worlds work often separately. But this mindset is no longer acceptable when navigating the fourth wave. IT must know what OT is doing, and vice versa. They must learn to communicate and overcome their differences.
2. Create visibility
Another important point is to create visibility. In particular, by mapping all the connected assets in a production facility. That is not an unnecessary luxury. If you do not know exactly which assets may be at risk, you cannot secure them.
3. Secure it
As said: surfing big waves requires good equipment. For industry, the required material is not a surfboard, but solid security solutions. Security services tailored for production environments. Solutions that not only keep a close eye on the connections between IT and OT, but also intervene when things go wrong.
Getting more information about Industry 4.0
Would you like to know more about how to safely surf the fourth wave with the right equipment and mindset? We would like to invite you to a no-obligation one-to-one expert session with our surf instructor (no really, he actually is a surf instructor!) to discuss this topic further.
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