A Deloitte Insights report has found that despite the fact that 90 percent of all data was created in recent years, many manufacturers have fallen behind in adopting broader digital transformation initiatives that span the entire enterprise. According to Deloitte, if manufacturers do not embrace digitization, as many as 35 percent of today’s industrial companies could be out of business or significantly changed within the next 10 years.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) prioritizes protection of the critical manufacturing sector, which it defines as companies that are essential to the infrastructure, economic prosperity and continuity of the U.S. A recent study by Moody’s Investor Services found these very entities are at great risk and highlighted electric, gas and water utilities, telecommunications, chemical and energy manufacturers as being particularly vulnerable.
In fact, incidents of hacking industrial control systems have been steadily growing over the past few years and show no signs of slowing down. Hackers have selected manufacturers due to the high likelihood they will pay a ransom and because many have inadequate security measures in place. Companies in this sector have mistakenly believed they’re not valuable enough for thieves to attack. That’s changed — dramatically.
How hackers get the keys to the plant
A single manufacturing plant can have hundreds of individual devices in its network, but not enough manufacturers have adopted proper security measures to protect these assets. Cybercriminals are counting on the fact that managers can’t monitor every device, allowing them to inflict great damage under the radar. For example, hackers can compromise or infect devices to serve in a larger attack campaign — an infiltration that may go unnoticed for days, even weeks.
Taking control of countless individual devices allows cybercriminals to create a botnet, a network of computers forced to run malicious code. This is common in Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks and phishing attacks. In most cases, the greatest source of vulnerability is people, especially employees who might open hostile emails and expose private corporate data.
The benefits of cloud data storage in manufacturing
Manufacturing organizations are operating in a new environment—one in which old-world challenges like systems integration and consolidation are colliding with the new-world challenges of globalization, digital disruption, automation and constantly evolving regulatory compliance requirements. As the technology to support smart factories becomes more accessible, manufacturers are increasing automation in an effort to lower manufacturing costs and increase productivity.
As we are moving ever more quickly into the realm of smart factories, Industry 4.0 will be a key component of this movement. It is sometimes referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, and it is a vision of smart factories built with intelligent cyber/physical systems. And as these manufacturers become more reliant on technology to automate plants and processes, their exposure to cybersecurity risks also increases.
Industry 4.0 will encompass numerous varieties of innovative technology — among which include the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), cloud-based manufacturing, and social product development. In this environment exists operational technology (OT), which is the practice of using hardware and software to control industrial equipment, and it primarily interacts with the physical world (think robotic arms, controlled often by legacy systems, that paint automobiles).
With the increasing reliance on digital systems and the ever-growing volume of data generated, manufacturers need better and more powerful strategies to protect their critical information and recover swiftly in the event of a disruption. Moving data to the cloud as part of an integrated approach to cyber protection can deliver significant benefits, including agility, lower costs, increased access to assets and improved collaboration. At the same time, the cloud migration trend has created a wider attack surface for malicious actors who threaten to use the very machines that help a business grow.
As ransomware, DDoS and insider attacks Rise, IT teams double down on prevention
Organizations need to become more conscious of their security posture and have a responsibility to invest in cybersecurity to put themselves ahead of disruption. Experts in cyberwarfare are warning their clients to improve employee awareness training immediately and suggest:
· Red team exercises
· Phishing and email exercises
· Attack simulation
· Constant test of backup and security systems
Employers are realizing they may not have the deepest bench for training and security and are outsourcing for support. A recent Canalys study found outsourcing, consulting and managed services will continue to grow and will account for almost 65% of the worldwide cyber security market this year. MSPs and MSSPs can fill the gaps and provide design, implementation and long-term support. These MSPs often have flexible outsourcing models, giving clients the liberty to decide the level of support they desire — whether it’s one-time support or long-term engagement.
How cloud storage can improve manufacturing processes
Protecting vital manufacturing data in the cloud allows manufacturers to optimize performance and uptime. Maintaining continuous uptime for factory floor operations is a critical driver of profitability since minutes of downtime can equal millions of dollars in lost sales, delayed revenues, wasted capacity, and higher fulfillment costs. Additional advantages of cloud computing for manufacturing include:
· Data accessibility and collaboration. Cloud storage makes data easily accessible to authorized personnel, regardless of their location. This enables manufacturers to facilitate collaboration across teams and with external partners and suppliers. Stakeholders can securely access and share data, fostering more efficient decision-making processes and enabling real-time collaboration.
· Data analytics and insights. Cloud data storage allows manufacturers to leverage advanced data analytics on their manufacturing data. By integrating data from multiple sources and applying analytics, manufacturers can gain valuable insights into their operations, production processes, quality control and supply chain management. This helps identify patterns, anomalies and areas for improvement, leading to optimized production, reduced downtime and enhanced overall efficiency.
· Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) integration. The IIoT involves connecting devices, sensors and equipment throughout the manufacturing environment to gather real-time data. Cloud storage provides a centralized platform to collect, store and analyze this data, enabling manufacturers to monitor equipment performance, detect issues and predict maintenance needs. This helps prevent unexpected downtime, increase equipment uptime and improve overall operational efficiency.
· Machine learning and predictive analytics. Cloud data storage and processing power are essential for manufacturers seeking to implement machine learning algorithms and predictive analytics models. By training machine learning models on large datasets stored in the cloud, manufacturers can develop predictive maintenance systems, quality control algorithms, demand forecasting models and other applications that optimize production processes and resource allocation. These technologies enable proactive decision-making, reduce costs, improve product quality and enhance customer satisfaction.
Key features of cloud storage for manufacturing data
· Data backup involves creating copies of important data and storing them in secure locations. To ensure comprehensive protection, backups should be performed regularly — ideally in real time or at frequent intervals — using both on-site and off-site storage options. On-site backups offer quick accessibility for immediate recovery, while off-site backups provide added security against physical threats, such as fires or natural disasters.
· Robust security measures protect manufacturing data from unauthorized access, breaches, or data theft. Encryption techniques secure data both during transit and at rest, ensuring that sensitive information remains confidential. Additionally, effective cloud storage includes strict access controls, authentication mechanisms and audit trails to track and manage data access.
· Business continuity. In the event of data loss or system failure, cloud storage makes it easier to quickly restore critical information, minimizing downtime and enabling operations to resume promptly. This helps manufacturing companies maintain business continuity, fulfill customer orders and prevent significant financial losses.
Tata Steel modernized its backup infrastructure with Acronis Cyber Protect
Tata Steel Downstream Products Limited (TSDPL) is a 100% subsidiary of Tata Steel which is part of the Tata Group. TSDPL was created to bring Steel Service Centre solutions for the first time to industrial customers and is the first organized Steel Service Centre capable of high tensile steel processing in India. The company has 10 large processing units, 14 sales and distribution locations throughout India, along with a very large partner ecosystem of external processing agencies and suppliers.
Despite a sophisticated IT infrastructure designed to support its nationwide supply chain, TSDPL was operating with an antiquated approach to backup. Users were performing manual backups, saving files in shared folders or external hard drives. In the event of a workstation failure or data loss incident, because users did not do regularly scheduled backups, RPO averaged seven days.
The company had multiple approaches and tools to protecting different workloads, and none of it was
in the cloud. This meant that restorations required support engineers to resolve issues on-site, and this was significantly compromised with work-from-home requirements, threatening overall performance and productivity if employees were unable to work for days or weeks at a time.
With support for more than 20 virtual, physical, and cloud platforms, and a hybrid of on-premises and cloud backup and recovery capabilities, TSDPL determined that Acronis Cyber Protect — which integrates data protection and cybersecurity in one solution — was their ideal solution. Delivered by a local MSP partner, HRM Technologies, a single portal gave TSDPL the ability to protect, patch, and recover individual files, application data, Microsoft 365 mailboxes, or entire virtual platforms. Moreover, Acronis Cyber Protect provides the flexibility that lets TSDPL restore workstations to similar or dissimilar hardware while managing data from a centralized location.
Prior to Acronis, approximately 10 backups were being done per day consisting of about 10-20 workloads. With Acronis, this number jumped 50x to 500 backups being done daily with easily as many workloads. Moreover, RTO and RPO metrics were dramatically improved. Before Acronis, RTO was up to five days and RPO was seven days — sometimes weeks. After Acronis, RTO was 4-6 hours and RPO was one day or less.
According to Rajesh Kumar, Chief Information Officer, “With Acronis, we are controlling important data and are no longer dependent on our users. By storing it in a certified and secure datacenter in India, we are confident that the data will not be lost in any case. Additionally, the compression is really good and we save time and money on downloading and uploading data.”
Manufacturing companies generate vast amounts of data, including product specifications, production schedules, inventory management, customer orders and quality control records, that are essential for day-to-day operations and decision-making processes. Data loss can occur due to various reasons, such as hardware failure, human error, cyberattacks or natural disasters.
Cloud storage provides a valuable safety net by preserving important data and storing it securely. This ensures that even if the original data is compromised or lost, the information can be recovered and restored.
And, as organizations transition into Industry 4.0, with all the accompanying security hazards that will be faced, it is essential to have a partner who can help you avoid potentially catastrophic downtime that can result in the event of a cyberattack. One report has stated that downtime costs manufactures $50 billion a year.
Running Acronis Cyber Protect in the cloud, that features easy transition from legacy software systems (ones that are often slow, complex and inadequate), as well as automation, within hybrid or other environments, can help manufacturers to streamline protection management, cut unnecessary administrative time, and eliminate unnecessary expenses as they grow with Acronis in moving to the cloud.
Acronis is a Swiss company, founded in Singapore. Celebrating two decades of innovation, Acronis has more than 2,000 employees in 45 locations. Acronis Cyber Protect solution is available in 26 languages in over 150 countries and is used by 18,000 service providers to protect over 750,000 businesses.