Product Security Glossary

Industry 4.0 Security

What is Industry 4.0 Security? 

Industry 4.0 Security is the principles and practices that are meant to protect industrial control systems that are connected together in a network. 

What is the Industry 4.0? 

Industry 4.0 refers to the fourth generation of the Industrial Revolution.  It consists of using network-connected devices that can either monitor or control processes in an industrial setting.  This network of devices, the Industrial Internet of Things, is augmented by machine learning and big data.  These devices can be installed in power generation and distribution facilities, manufacturing facilities, or in the transportation sector.  Smart factories are a major part of Industry 4.0. 

What are the benefits of the Industry 4.0? 

Industry 4.0 can help automate many processes that would had to have been performed manually before.  Monitoring devices can gather data about environmental conditions, manufacturing conditions, or traffic conditions, and provide instant feedback to ensure that things get properly adjusted for optimal workflow.  Other network-connected devices can accept data from the monitoring devices and make that adjustment without human intervention.  Industry 4.0 security can play a role in this process. 

Why do we need Industry 4.0 security? 

The lack of proper Industry 4.0 security could present many problems.  Obviously, poorly secured devices could allow bad actors to steal sensitive data that are being transferred between the devices and the device gateways.  Also, a bad actor could take control of a poorly secured device and manipulate it in a way that could cause injury, death, or property damage.  What might not be so obvious, is that an attacker could take control of a device, and then do a lateral move into the rest of the corporate network. 

What are the challenges of Industry 4.0 security? 

The biggest challenge we face with Industry 4.0 security is that there’s no standardized set of manufacturing best practices for dealing with device security.  Many legacy devices run with outdated software and operating systems, and many are exposed to the public Internet. 

Industrial device networks can be very complex, consisting of many different types of devices, with different types of user interfaces and running different communications protocols.  This would make it hard to keep track of them and could also make it hard to perform even the simplest basic security tasks, such as updating device passwords. 

The final challenge could be the biggest.  It’s that many personnel lack the knowledge and awareness that they should have about Industry 4.0 security. 

How can we enhance Industry 4.0 security? 

First and foremost, device manufacturers need to start building security into their devices.  Adding security to a device that wasn’t designed to be secure would be difficult at best, and impossible at worst. Using automated tools that locate vulnerabilities, offer mitigation guidance, and integrate into the CI/CD process is the recommended option for developing secure Industry 4.0 devices. 

Industrial company purchasing Industry 4.0 devices should make sure that the are acquiring secure devices, that will stay secure long term. They should inquire the device manufacturers regarding security measures included in the devices, and consider implementing a security acceptance test.  

Personnel who manage industrial devices need to be trained to deal with industrial Industry 4.0 security.  There should also be an inventory system to help keep track of what devices are installed and where they are. Scanning industrial devices installed in the network should be at high priority in order to identify the risk the pose, and based off the security risk a mitigation planed should be implemented. From restricting access to highly vulnerable devices, to down right replacing them with amore secure device.  

Finally, larger organizations with a very large network of devices might consider purchasing the services of a Managed Security Service Provider. 

For a lot of reasons, Industry 4.0 security is important.  Fortunately, there are things we can do to help make Industry 4.0 as secure as possible.