Data Security Through Digital Transformation for Mid-Size Manufacturers

  • February 12, 2024

Many manufacturers considering implementing new technology, such as data management platforms or data collection devices like IIoT sensors, worry that new technology will put their data at risk, and these worries are understandable: According to IBM research, manufacturing was the top cyber-attacked industry in 2022.

Manufacturers need to balance staying relevant with the adoption of the latest technology against the risks (known or unknown) that accompany any shift. With the reward outweighing the risk, manufacturers should cautiously and optimistically approach new technology tools like an athlete trying on a new pair of running shoes: there might be some initial blisters as the shoes are broken in and formed to their feet, but in the end the runner will be provide more support for a better performance than they could have had if they stuck to their worn out sneakers. 

Instead of asking, “should I avoid technology for the risk of cyber-attacks?” instead ask, “how can I go through digital transformation securely?”

The basics of cloud data security

Most digital transformation projects involve some amount of cloud computing. For agility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness, cloud is hard to beat. While it has some unique security concerns, the basics of data security apply.

To review, the three fundamentals of data security are:

  • Confidentiality: controls access to sensitive information and grants access only to required parties/individuals.
  • Integrity: maintains accuracy and trustworthiness of data; unauthorized individuals or processes cannot change data.
  • Availability: ensures information is accessible for authorized individuals.

Cloud-based manufacturing systems deliver on all three of these. Combining an authorization framework like OAuth2 with Active Directory (AD), which offers comprehensive authentication and authorization service through role-based-access-control (RBAC), ensures confidentiality; cutting-edge data quality and assessment tools ensure the health and integrity of your data; and by hosting systems on the cloud, your data is available to you from anywhere in the world in a secured way. Technologies like multi-factor authentication further reduces the risk of unauthorized access, enhancing the confidentiality of sensitive information. And with the addition of a Transport Layer Security (TLS), previously known as a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), all communication between you and the cloud is encrypted.

Of course, on-premises solutions can deliver confidentiality, integrity, and availability as well, albeit in different ways. The key difference is the responsibility of data security. With on-premises solutions, the manufacturer is responsible for overseeing data security. At large enterprises, this might be doable with a team of highly trained experts. But most mid-size manufacturers can only afford a very small IT team. With constant updates to Windows and other platforms, these internal IT teams spend all their time keeping up with constant patches to ensure security and prevent attacks.

The beauty of cloud-based solutions is that data security largely falls on the cloud provider, whether Microsoft, Amazon, or Google. These companies employ larger teams of data security experts than even the largest manufacturers could ever dream of.

How FactoryEye keeps your data secure

  1. Bringing IT and OT together

Magic Software has spent decades integrating IT systems for manufacturers. Over time, this experience showed us a big gap in how manufacturers approach technology. Namely, IT and OT systems and their teams have lived in completely separate worlds for far too long. This creates a number of problems, including security. While IT security has improved over the years, OT security has lagged.

 We’ve found that OT systems on the factory floor often use unsecured private networks for machine data which are vulnerable to malware attacks or even human error. At FactoryEye, as we eliminate the data silos, we look at updating both infrastructures to allow for smoother and more secure IT-OT integration and communication.

  1. Role-based access

Every manufacturer produces two things: products and data. Just as you wouldn’t give every employee a key to the building so they could access products at any time, you shouldn’t give every employee equal access to your data. In the digital age, data is quickly becoming a company’s most valuable asset. With the rise of AI, this will only become more true.

At FactoryEye, we’ve implemented role-based access into our platform so that you can control exactly what individual employees can – and cannot – access. Not only does this improve data security, but it also makes the platform easier to use. Why? When a user logs in, they can immediately access information tailored to their unique role. This way your plant managers won’t have to sort through reports that are only relevant to the CFO before finding the information they need about the state of the plant and vice versa.

  1. Two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication goes hand in hand with role-based access. While role-based access tailors the information available to the person logging in, two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection by making sure a given person’s log-in credentials are only used by them. Following best practices, we’ve included two-factor authentication as standard settings for FactoryEye.

  1. Auditability and Data quality 

As we stated earlier, one of the fundamentals of data security is ensuring the integrity of your data. Manufacturers need to know their data is remaining intact, but when they’re producing massive amounts of data every second, no one is able to manually comb through all the data to make sure nothing has changed. FactoryEye builds data quality checks into the pipeline to flag data that does not make sense. The data can then be discarded or sent for a manual review. Having audit trails on all data allows any reviewer to see who changed the data and why it was changed. Visibility into the data pipeline through audit trails ensures data validity, accuracy, and transparency.

Cloud migration is not just cutting edge, it’s now the safest option

 By moving to a cloud-based platform, such as FactoryEye, manufacturers can reap the benefits of a digital transformation while improving their security posture. And having an experienced partner to facilitate the migration of existing security systems, SSL encrypt data, and build in audit trails will allow manufacturers to clearly see that their cloud system is more secure than ever with data checks, two-factor authentication, and role-based access control that would not have been possible without a cloud upgrade.

If you want to learn more about how FactoryEye can feature in your digital transformation plans, reach out to us today or schedule a demo.

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