Industrial revolutions are significant milestone that reshape the course of history. Since the discovery of steam power, revolutions have progressed rapidly, with the fourth industrial revolution now underway. Many of the novel changes in Industry 4.0 come from the keen interest in manufacturing plants. Industry 4.0 is characterized by the integration of several technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), big data and cloud computing. These technologies help manufacturing plants to achieve better productivity, customization features and operational efficiency. In essence, Industry 4.0 provides a way to deal with high volumes of data and enhanced communications, to link the manufacturing sector’s digital and physical components.
The increased intercommunication and data density that occurs with Industry 4.0 has led to new challenges, especially in cybersecurity. Cybersecurity has become a major concern, and one that should be followed at the highest level. With advancements in network capabilities and digital landscapes, cyberattacks have become more frequent for various motivations such as financial and strategic reasons. Stakeholders that use IOT systems are affected by this problem. For the most part, large organizations are exposed to cyberattacks that cause significant financial damages, in addition to data corruption, system crashes, privacy breaches, and loss of prestige, trust and reputation.
Risks in a connected world
As the world becomes more interconnected and reliant on technology, the attack surface for cyber threats widens considerably. In the context of Industry 4.0, these risks can manifest in the following ways:
Industry 4.0 cybersecurity challenges
Manufacturing is the second-most attacked industry, although it falls behind in terms of security.
The same malware, denial of service (DoS), device hacking, vulnerability exploitation and other standard attack techniques that affect traditional networks can also affect smart factories. Additionally, manufacturers are finding it more and more challenging to identify and prevent cyberattacks due to smart factories’ increased attack surfaces. With the emergence of IoT, these threats now work on an entirely new level, and can result in serious physical consequences. Some new security challenges that organizations face in the age of Industry 4.0 are as follows:
In 2010, a worm known as Stuxnet attacked nuclear facilities in Iran. Stuxnet was a combination of four zero-day vulnerabilities. The worms used default passwords to access the Windows operating system that ran PCS7 and WinCC programs.
An externally originated virus attacked the Saudi Aramco oil corporation by infecting 30,000 workstations. The company suspected the attack was a counter attack by the Iranian government. However, Aramco Oil corporation was forced to isolate their electronic systems from the outside.
Mirai botnet infects IoT devices and controls them as a zombie network for malicious activities. Mirai targets the devices using the default usernames and passwords set by the manufacturers.
The necessity of cybersecurity in Industry 4.0
Industry 4.0 offers numerous benefits, but it also presents a host of cybersecurity challenges. As manufacturers increasingly rely on interconnected systems and data-driven operations, the need for robust cybersecurity measures becomes more pressing. The protection of data, intellectual property and operational continuity are vital components of a successful Industry 4.0 implementation.
In the era of Industry 4.0, investing in cybersecurity is not an option, but an imperative. Failing to prioritize cybersecurity can result in severe consequences, from data breaches and financial losses to damaged reputations and compromised safety. To navigate the Fourth Industrial Revolution successfully, industries must recognize that cybersecurity is an integral part of their overall strategy, and adopt a proactive and vigilant approach to protect their digital assets and operations.