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The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Your Business’ Digital Transformation Will Not Be Complete Without This

Lorna Jones

Lorna Jones, Senior Cyber Security Consultant
Sep 29, 2023

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Manufacturing is considered one of the most transitioning industries to the digital world.

Manufacturing! The stern business is the closest to Oil & Gas. Your enterprise produces; no one gets anything. One to think and see how production and manufacturing can be digital; it’s the opposite of the essence; it’s physical things in the real world.

Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as the title that grabbed your attention states. A survey from McKinsey & Company delivers that 68% of the organisations that took the survey in 2019 think that Industry 4.0 is the most significant strategic step a manufacturing organisation can take. Back in 2014, the term ‘Industry 4.0’ was non-existent. As for your business, you want to take the next step, to jump over the puddle but are not sure if it is safe yet. Or if the jump will be hazardous. This article will guide you on what will change before and after the jump, securing your business’ infrastructure, embracing the cloud, and vetting the partners (third-party providers)that your business will deal with. Let’s get into it.

The digital transition: Embracing the cloud

A digital transition is no longer an option in today’s fast-paced evolution of business; it has become necessary for manufacturing enterprises looking to stay competitive and thrive in the modern era. By embracing digital technologies, like cloud computing and many other resources and systems, your business will see many benefits, from faster scalability to cost efficiency and enhanced security.

Understanding the Benefits of Digital Transformation

What will change in your digital transformation? This approach works with whole sales or piece-by-piece manufacturing. Software applications and designation control the essential piece.
-Fewer workplace injuries and safety overall.
-Digital monitoring improves output quality, which in turn lowers the cost of the rework of products.
-Enhancing process efficiency leads to a positive impact on employee productivity and the financial performance of your organisation. By optimising operations, you can strengthen your financial position, enabling continuous innovation, sustainability, and increased value for your company, shareholders, and customers.
When you take this path, the digital optimisation of your business touches every aspect of your organisation; 

The supply chain is IoT sensors managed:

This pertains to evaluating the efficiency of different equipment types, which may entail the utilisation of gas sensors to quantify oxygen levels within a specific zone, temperature sensors to oversee the temperature of a designated object or process, and pressure sensors to gauge variations in air pressure around a device.

Computer vision double-checks quality

Cross-references, and identifies malfunctions or defection of the product in seconds. The tasks involve:

Overseeing plant operations and equipment.
Monitoring energy consumption.
Managing inventory.
Tracking equipment maintenance.
Gathering data on environmental conditions like humidity and temperature through sensors. The vision processes collected data to provide actionable steps.

The Power of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing provides access to computing resources, storage, and applications via the Internet. The scalability of the cloud allows businesses to manage and adapt resources based on demand, ensuring cost efficiency and optimised performance. The cloud offers a pay-as-you-go where you do not pay for resources that the business does not use, unlike hardware operation costs; suddenly, teams are in one place even if they are in different locations, and collaboration becomes a breeze.
Now, your business wants to jump to the cloud, but one important thing, before transitioning is making sure it is safe, and we do that by

Assessing Cloud Readiness

It’s a critical step to make sure before migrating to the cloud. It involves assessing the company’s policies, infrastructure, and applications to determine its preparedness for cloud adoption.
Factors to consider:

  • Include existing IT infrastructure.
  • Data security requirements.
  • Compliance obligations and budget constraints.  A thorough assessment helps identify potential challenges and gaps to address for successful cloud migration.

Migration Strategies and Best Practice

It involves planning how to manage all the data, applications, and workloads. There’s life and shift: moving to the cloud as-is, and there’s phased migration moving slowly part by part, both following best practices such as testing, planning, and communication to minimise the disruption. Finally, continuous monitoring and post-migration optimisation are vital for successful cloud migration.

Cyber threats your business face and lessons learned from them

Here is the part where we mention some of the industry leaders, the cyber-attacks they fell in, and the lessons learned from them, so your business will not be the next:
“JBS servers, due to a cyber-attack at multiple plants for five days, halted meatpacking operations; this denied many non-union employees several days’ pay because the attack disrupted the meat production and distribution across the country. JBS reported; that they paid $11 million in ransomware to keep the files safe. “
“In Taiwan, Advantech, a gigantic IOT manufacturer, in 2020, was hit with a ransomware attack that encrypted and stole their data; the attackers requested over 700 bitcoins ($14 million) in return to delete the stolen data and decrypt the systems.”
“In 2017, Renault-Nissan, the automotive manufacturer that makes 1/9 out of every car, was hit with the ‘WannaCry’ ransomware that halted production at five plants in several European countries. The company disconnected the infected plants from its network and restored them by next week. Experts estimated the losses at $4 Billion.”
“In 2016, FACC AG, an Austrian aerospace component manufacturer, experienced a security breach where threat actors executed a “whaling” campaign targeting top executives and accounting departments. Impersonating the CEO, they fraudulently requested a $55.8 million transfer for a non-existent acquisition. A Chinese citizen got arrested in Hong Kong for allegedly laundering $4 million of the stolen funds. FACC dismissed their CEO and CFO and sued them for $11 million for failing to protect the company. The entire attack is estimated to have cost FACC $61 million.”
Lesson learned: Ransomware is very common in the manufacturing industry, so businesses must run penetration testing over their systems regularly, and it is best to hire a cybersecurity firm with experience in pen-testing to detect any abnormalities and security misconfigurations and ensure that intrusion detection systems (IDS) are in place.

Securing the Infrastructure: Fortifying Your Digital Foundations

Your business moved into the cloud and initiated your infrastructure. It’s time to keep your business safe. It must adopt a multi-layered approach to secure your business.

  1. ICS/SCADA Assessment Operational Technology (OT) forms the backbone of manufacturing businesses’ critical infrastructure and industrial processes. Industrial Control Systems (ICS) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems are central to controlling and monitoring these processes. Conducting ICA/SCADA assessments is a vital cybersecurity practice to safeguard OT from potential cyber threats and ensure uninterrupted operations. By performing regular ICA/SCADA assessments, manufacturing businesses can enhance the resilience of their operational technology, mitigate potential risks, and protect critical infrastructure from cyber threats. The proactive approach to safeguarding OT ensures continuous operations and reinforces the organisation’s commitment to maintaining a robust cybersecurity posture.
  2. Zero Trust Network: Rethinking Security Perimeters It treats every user, device, and application as a potential threat. Key points include continuous authentication, minimal privileged access, micro-segmentation, and data protection. Adopting the Zero Trust Network empowers manufacturing businesses to enhance cybersecurity, protect critical assets, and mitigate risks.
  3. Third-Party Risk Assessment: Strengthening the Supply Chain Assessing third-party providers is necessary for manufacturing organisations to manage and reduce external risks because even after your business’s digital transformation and making sure its assets and data are safe, it can be at risk by someone exploiting an external vendor having a weak entry point that and in turn infect your business on the way. Your business must validate the vendor’s security and ensure compliance. Engaging in collaborative risk management and implementing strong contractual agreements enhances security practices, with continuous monitoring and risk management would minimise supply chain disruptions and build customer trust. Ultimately, an all-around approach to third-party risk assessment maintains the organisation’s overall cybersecurity posture and resilience against cyber threats. Manufacturing businesses can enhance cybersecurity by conducting thorough assessments.
  4. Building a Security-Conscious Culture: Creating a culture of security awareness in manufacturing businesses requires the backing of leaders, regular training sessions, defined policies and an environment that encourages reporting. Strengthening preparedness involves implementing factor authentication, prioritising the protection of data assets and conducting security drills. It is crucial to apply employees in decision-making processes to foster a sense of responsibility towards security. Recognising and rewarding those who demonstrate vigilance towards security incentivises behaviours. Additionally, emphasising the importance of improvement allows for effective adaptation of security measures to address emerging threats. Establishing a defence against cyber threats empowers employees to protect information and maintain a strong cybersecurity posture.

Is your business ready to take the jump? Here’s what you need to do

Any manufacturing business’s first move would be to make a checklist of what they lack, what they have, where your business is, and where they want to be. Then they need to reach experts in this field for a consultation about the next step tailored to them. Microminder offers the solution to all of your business’s cybersecurity problems. To ensure success and compliance like they haven’t changed a thing, no downtime, and no pitfalls in implementation. Visit our website and get a free consultation call. We will take the risk away and bring reliance and impeccable execution to your business.

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