The Internet of Things (IoT) is allowing the food manufacturing industry unprecedented access to real-time data. The decision maker no longer needs to wait hours, days, or weeks to gather data. The days of manually collected data are gone. Data is collected by sensors and various other devices, and it is sent directly to specialized databases for processing. The decision maker can drill down on desired information (as detail as they want) to determine if a process is achieving goals set by key performance indicators (KPIs). They’re experiencing The Connected Enterprise.
Enter the Brave New World
By using the EtherNet/IP technology, the manufacturer is implementing a communications infrastructure to achieve their goals for the The Connected Enterprise. The technology provides transparency, security and the deliverance of real-time information. When a food manufacturer provides access to information, they enter into a new territory. Many hidden dangers await in this new landscape. Every day, malicious hackers are seeking to obtain vital intellectual property to sell to the highest bidder. Also, actions by employees conducting regular business can expose company systems to intrusions, viruses and other unwanted attacks.
Manufacturers know that obtaining accessible information is worth the risk. They can analyze the data and determine if issues are present in a blink of the eye. You can study where a product originated and track its progress to a final destination. The food manufacturer is confident that security risks are minimized. All internal and external threats must be evaluated using a multi-layered approach.
Protected Environments Spur Innovation
Network security（翻牆） can be a complex beast. Network are attacked every day. The attack that concerns IT personnel the most is ransomware. Ransomware restricts access to devices on a network. The user must pay a ransom in order to regain access. The organization then decides if it will pay or not. The following example shows how a food manufacturer could be attacked.
During a recent facility audit, the manufacturer uncovers two area for improvement. All employees did not need physical access to productions servers and clients. Also, employees outside the plant should authenticate prior to accessing systems. An employee attaches a personal USB drive to a production server. Unbeknownst to the employee, ransomware is present on the USB drive. The malicious device recognizes that it is on a network and proceeds to download its cargo. The ransomware now has direct access to both the manufacturing and enterprise networks.
Safe Haven in a Complex World
A manufacturing facility deploys various types of technology. A vital concern is how to secure these technologies across different platforms and devices. If an attack hits the plant, a secure buffer zone can prevent it from spreading to the rest of the organization. Consult industry best practices for securing the deployment of the EtherNet/IP technology.
The “Design Considerations for Securing Industrial Automation” and “Control System Networks and the Industrial IP Advantage” e-learning series are excellent resources to learn more about securing an industrial network.