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As we enter 2022, it’s important that organizations invest in cybersecurity for their operational technology (OT) systems. Why? One of the reasons is that Industry 4.0 can sometimes introduce more risk for OT. This is evident in several Industry 4.0 market trends.

For example, there’s digital twin infrastructure. That’s where you make a digital copy of your production facility or your machine. You can then simulate the stuff you want to do in the digital twin and optimize the environment based on that simulation.

The second thing is predictive maintenance. You are collecting a lot of data from your machine, and if the behavior of the machine of abrasions, temperatures, or whatever else is changing, you do maintenance windows before your machine gets broken. You interconnect your purchasing system down to the production and into the supply chain. So, if someone orders a car on your webpage in a specific configuration, it’s automatically integrated into the ERP system, ordering the right pieces from the right suppliers, and programing the production line exactly for the product so things are delivered on time.

The Reality of Realizing Industry 4.0

Truthfully, organizations can’t drive digital twin infrastructure, predictive maintenance, and other Industry 4.0 trends without making changes to their technology. First, devices in the production facility need a lot more functions. They need to be easier to address at access, and they need to be integrated into automation systems that can address or collect calls from it.

And then you even need more devices. You want to have sensor values, and you need devices that can transfer data between Information Technology (IT) and OT. You need to have more network devices. From there, you need to collect all this information in a way that provides meaning to OT and security teams.

Now that you have assets with more functions and more devices, you also need the performance of the cloud. Generally, if you want to leverage machine learning or big data capabilities of the cloud to improve your production or to improve your process, you need to bring that data into a central point on a place where there’s enough compute power. This can make tasks like maintenance and updates easier to perform and scale.

Taken together, leveraging a greater volume of devices with more functions together with the power of the cloud can help you to improve the productivity of your processes and ensure their stability. But the downside is that you introduce more cyber risk and more complexity in the other end. We have more devices, which bring more vulnerabilities. And then we start to connect them to the public internet, which increases risk even more.

What Needs to Be Done to Secure All This?

Organizations can mitigate the vulnerabilities and cyber risk discussed above by having a full inventory of hardware and software. Then you can start to monitor the lifecycles of devices, integrate it again into your ERP system, and thereby optimize the maintenance of your environment much better if you do. This puts you in a position where you can improve your strategies going forward.

Even so, the most important thing is that you go step by step course. If you start with machine learning, for example, your cybersecurity program will be never effective if you miss out on one of the fundamental parts or on foundational or fundamental parts.

We as Tripwire always have a mind that cyber security is not for its own purpose. We understand that we have market trends that should bring you more efficiency and more productivity. We even think that cybersecurity should drive this initiative.

With our cybersecurity tools, Tripwire brings visibility to improve your uptime and reduce your mean time to repair (MTTR). We can help you to perform your standard processes better and automate them and/or integrate them with your automation systems. And we also recognize that governments and market groups introduce new regulations and laws that require organizations to defend against certain threats. We fulfill these initiatives in accordance with organizations’ compliance requirements, helping them to remain secure for the future.