Industrial cloud computing is a leading technology trend behind Industrial IoT (IIoT), among others that propel manufacturers towards business automation. However, along with these technical advances, there’s surprisingly limited investments towards cybersecurity.


Cloud Computing

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) defines cloud computing as “provision of infinitely scalable computing resources as a service over the Internet”. A fancy way of saying resources accessible only by big corporations are now available to smaller companies at a reduced scale and rates. It opens up production systems like 3D printing and industrial robots to SMB manufacturers.

industrial cloud computing, platforms
Uses for cloud computing platforms. Source: Servercloud

There are three main formats of industrial cloud computing: software as a service, platform as a service, and infrastructure as a service. The first provides applications available over the Internet. It can be accessed via PCs, mobile devices and instrumented machines without a need for local storage. PaaS allows companies to use virtualized environments for application testing without the expensive hardware/software licenses. The last, IaaS, gives scaled versions of secure, enterprise-level infrastructures.

For each format, there are public and private options. It also has benefits across enterprise and production levels. Industrial cloud computing can influence ERP and data analytics. There are endless opportunities in manufacturing productions, from the research process to fabrication. Cloud computing has the potential to create a minimum 25 percent total inputs that will go into finished products, reported ITIF.


Cyber Security

Industry 4.0, industrial cloud computingTechnology like industrial cloud computing and IIoTpropels us into a new industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, making processes faster and easier. Yet researchers and experts are concerned with one important lack of investment: cybersecurity.

To this day, manufacturing remains the second most hacked industry next to healthcare, with IIoT being the leading concern. This is due to the interconnectivity of devices through the cloud and their connection to the internet. A single weak point opens the door for hackers to cause havoc among other systems. Often, industrial espionage is the hacker’s motivation, in order to leak information such as employee identification information or steal intellectual property. However, operational technology is also under threat. Alexander Polyakov, CTO of ERPScan, stated that hackers target machinery software and make small, easy-to-miss, variances within programming files could lead to:

  • Defective products, causing recalls and reputation loss
  • Manufacturing disruptions
  • Loss of production time
  • Damage to products and/or machinery
  • Severe or fatal accidents

Researchers from Alabama and Singapore worked with Additive Manufacturing to show how easy it was to hack into their OT. The researchers hacked 3D printers that made propellers for drones, altering the design file, creating discrepancies. When the drones were tested post-production, they failed within two minutes fly time (read the full report here).

While this is a proof-of-concept case, it shows initiative and foresight by Additive. Defenses for cybersecurity in manufacturing are necessary precautions. Some make the mistake of focusing on short-term solutions, like implementing patches upon release so hackers can’t find and exploit them. As a company, it’s important to be aware of potential asset weaknesses. Plan how to protect them long-term and create contingencies for potential worst case scenarios. For example, control measures will ensure that if a hacker does get into one system, they will be unable to access the rest.

When in doubt, talk with your developer and IT specialists. Figuring out the best measures to protect your smart factory will save you millions in the long run.

To get a free consultation, contact us today.