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If you work for a manufacturing organization, you know that the challenges you’re up against are formidable. Not only do you face increasing competition, but supply chain disruptions and workforce shortages are testing your ability to keep production volumes and quality high.

At the same time, your operation is embracing Industry 4.0 to accelerate innovation, improve efficiencies and increase customer value. How do you navigate all this change and ensure business continuity when you don’t have full visibility into your OT environments? You can’t protect what you can’t see.

Manufacturing cybersecurity and operational resilience go hand in hand—both are essential for the risk management demanded in today’s business environment. Let’s examine how visibility contributes to improved security and resilience.

Plant Worker Monitors Robot Reliability
Manufacturing companies are increasingly focused on risk management and business continuity. An important step is to improve visibility, which leads to security and resilience for operational environments.

The Industrial Manufacturing Security Challenge: Brownfield Sites Meet New IoT Devices

Most major manufacturers’ suite of production facilities includes a high proportion of brownfield sites and legacy equipment. These sites have a mixture of aging ICS (industrial control system) assets and new IoT devices. Both are hard to secure.

Traditional ICS devices usually have decades-long life cycles. They are purpose-built, stand-alone systems designed for reliability rather than security. They often run stripped-down versions of operating systems and communicate using proprietary or industrial protocols that lack security features. Furthermore, they’re often sensitive to changes in network traffic or firmware, making many IT security tools unsafe to use.

At the same time, millions of IoT devices are being added to manufacturing networks to reduce costs and deliver more value to customers. Such devices are also being added to the networks needed to keep facilities operating, including access control, fire, lighting and HVAC systems.

Like legacy ICS devices, many IoT devices have lightweight, stripped-down operating systems that lack common security features. Their firmware is rarely updated yet they are frequently connected to other systems and often provide an easy target for hackers.

These inherent characteristics of manufacturing systems and facilities make them difficult to secure and require specialized OT/IoT security and visibility know-how and technology to reduce risk.

The Way Forward: See, Detect and Respond

What if you could see all the assets in your OT environment and how many there are of each? What if you knew which devices are actively communicating and what protocols they are using? What if you were immediately alerted when someone intentionally or accidentally changed the configuration on a PLC, or deleted a log file?

Having real-time situational awareness of your OT networks, including visibility into assets, connections, communications, protocols and more, allows you to start improving cyber resiliency. The good news is that you can automate asset inventory for manufacturing facilities, eliminate blind spots, and reveal assets that might have previously been missed.

Such a solution requires an extensive depth and breadth of protocol support, including deep, accurate analysis of ICS protocols. Plus the solution needs support for IoT protocols and current profiles of millions of devices for accurate asset identification and anomaly alerting.

After all, you want maximum and accurate coverage of all your OT, IoT and IT assets from all systems—no matter their age, vendor or function. In addition, you likely want a solution that readily scales to monitor an unlimited number of assets and networks across numerous manufacturing facilities.

Once you’ve got excellent visibility, you can move onto risk reduction. This requires real-time detection of vulnerabilities, threats and anomalies at both brownfield and greenfield facilities. It includes process insights that highlight threats to reliability, such as failing equipment, unusual variable values and networking communication anomalies.

It also requires knowing how to act on the alerts and reports that signal there’s a problem. A system that summarizes and prioritizes risks, with actionable intelligence and playbooks for remediation, helps you efficiently and systematically make your facility more secure.

And, if you need to analyze problematic network changes over time, or execute fast incident response, strong forensic timeline analysis and query tools speed up remediation. For manufacturers, this translates into maximized uptime, and consistent product quality and production volumes.

Here’s how a number of manufacturers have benefited from improved visibility: 

Sector
Challenge
After Visibility and Security Project
Outcome / Next Steps
Industrial Equipment
  • Lack of visibility into operational environments
  • Weak network segmentation



  • Comprehensive asset inventory
  • Network segmentation underway
  • OT vulnerability and network monitoring and management

  • Improved visibility and cybersecurity
  • Planning for centralized, global asset and alert monitoring
  • Higher level of cybersecurity and resiliency
  • Global Pharma
  • Visibility into acquired network operations
  • Integrating isolated data into SOC
  • Improving supply chain visibility
  • Comprehensive OT visibility
  • Automated detection of operational anomalies
  • Accelerated response to supply chain disruptions

  • Improved supply chain visibility
  • Satisfied regulatory guidelines
  • Integrated isolated data into SOC


  • Medical Technology
  • Improving visibility into global manufacturing processes
  • Protecting production lines against downtime
  • Minimizing the impact of potential security incidents
  • Established a stronger defense against cyberattacks
  • Improved the reliability of the manufacturing process


  • Achieved a more mature security posture
  • Establishing a Corporate Security Center of Excellence


  • The first step to dealing with the manufacturing cybersecurity challenge is to gain visibility into plant networks. From there, people and processes can be organized to take the steps needed to improve operational resilience.

    Remember the Big Picture When Considering Cybersecurity for Manufacturing

    If you’re wondering how to secure manufacturing facilities and keep operations running, then seeing and securing all assets in the operational environment is a must.

    When looking at ways to do so, consider not just the accuracy and breadth of asset coverage of a particular technology, but how it solves your security and operational resilience problem at a higher level.

    Does it help with your OT and security workforce shortage?

    • Do the solution and the vendor behind it bring deep manufacturing, ICS and IoT knowledge to the table, helping alleviate your skills gap?
    • Does it help you assess cyber and operational risk and take resource-efficient action to address problems?
    • Does it integrate holistically with IT infrastructure for simplified tool sets and workflows?
    • Does it offer benefits to both OT and IT, facilitating IT/OT convergence?

    And, does it help you with the challenge of not just securing one site, but your worldwide network of facilities?

    • Does it scale elegantly, both in terms of the number of nodes and the number of facilities in covers?
    • Does it offer a wide range of on-site sensors that meet the needs of any plant?
    • Does it provide anywhere, anytime access to consolidated risks and threats across facilities?
    • Does it come backed by a global network of partners that can address all your servicing and purchasing needs?

    If you need to help your company ensure business continuity while undergoing digital transformation and facing unprecedented talent and supply chain challenges, we’d like to help. To learn how we’ve partnered with manufacturers around the world to improve their cyber and operational resilience, please contact us.

    Nozomi Networks Labs’ new OT/IoT Security Report covers cyberattack trends, vulnerability research, and best practices in remediation efforts.
    • Manufacturing: An Industry in Transition
    • 3 Major Challenges of Digital Transformation
    • The Opportunity: See, Detect, Respond
    • Taking Action to Improve Resilience
    • Case Studies and Use Cases
    • How Nozomi Networks Can Help