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Omron and Cisco join forces to enhance factory security

07 June, 2018

Omron and Cisco Systems have agreed to collaborate by integrating Cisco’s networking and security technology into Omron PLCs (programmable logic controllers) to enhance the security of manufacturing sites with IoT, and to help manufacturers to achieve safe and secure manufacturing.

The two companies will work together to construct an environment where PLCs provide security authentication for three key elements: people at manufacturing sites; devices connected to machinery and production lines; and the data that is exchanged at manufacturing sites.

By integrating Cisco’s proven network and security technology with Omron’s controller technology, which integrates control and information, the companies say they will enable the safe and secure use of IoT at production sites.

Before forming this partnership, Omron had already developed its NJ Series Machine Automation Controller – its flagship PLC that includes an OPC UA server and complies with the security-enabled global communications standard. The PLCs enable secure data communication with software and devices that support OPC UA.

By combining these PLCs with Cisco’s network and security technology, the partners plan to expand the technologies available for authenticating people and devices. The enhanced PLCs will:

•  authenticate user access and grant secure remote access only to authorised users, facilitating the safe monitoring of PLCs and machines at manufacturing sites;

This demonstration shows the areas where Omron and Cisco plan to collaborate

•  detect device connections, block access from unauthorised devices, and issue alerts in real time; and

•  encrypt communication data and ensure that this data is transmitted appropriately, as well as detecting and recording unauthorised access and security threats by monitoring and visualising details of data being carried by networks.

The background to the collaboration is the growing importance of the IoT, with the number of connected devices expected to reach 50 billion by 2020. At the same time, manufacturing sites are facing increasingly serious threats, as evidenced by reported cases of production being disrupted by ransomware and other malware attacks.

Customers and the market are also demanding higher levels of quality and safety through more stringent regulations on food and pharmaceutical products, as well as traceability to ensure the quality of components in the electronics industry. Manufacturers face significant challenges in continuing to improve their technologies while addressing these issues and fulfilling their social responsibilities.

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