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5 August, 2020

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Are you cyber-prepared?

05 March, 2020

If Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone can be hacked, it can happen to any of us. Gambica’s sector head for industrial automation, Nikesh Mistry*, argues that companies need to put more effort into implementing cybersecurity measures to protect their automation systems and other installations.

We’re nearing the end of the first quarter of 2020 and are now closer to this summer than the last. What obstacles have already been overcome and what might be left to still conquer?

One obstacle that most of us would wish to avoid is being the victim of a cyber-attack. Cybercrime is becoming a threat to every single company in the world and, with the pace at which technology is advancing, we need to implement effective security measures. 

With the recent news that the mobile phone belonging to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was hacked, and that Microsoft is building a new centre, solely to provide cyber-security support, it is evident that the requirement to implement cyber-security is vital. As with any threat, the higher the value of the reward, the greater the risk, and these technological advances now require multiple layers of protection. 

First you need to understand the different types of cyber-security protection that are available. I won’t discuss them in depth, but if you weren’t aware there are different types, then it is certainly worth finding out more. Often only the most vulnerable data is protected, yet breaches are normally most successful through the weakest link in the network. According to a report from Kaspersky Lab, 90% of all cyber-security breaches are caused by human error rather than being the result of targeted cyber-attacks. 

The level of cyber-security required should most certainly not be overlooked. Most of us have car insurance, house alarms and other forms of protection, yet the evolution of technology means we now need to start protecting things that we cannot physically see but are equally at risk. 

Simply applying protection isn’t enough. In the event of an emergency, we’re all accustomed to a particular procedure depending on the situation, however an IBM survey of 2,800 organisations found that 77% didn’t have a cybersecurity incident response plan. In other words, 23% of those organisations wouldn’t have an immediate plan of action in the unfortunate event that they were a victim of cyber-crime. 

Industry 4.0 consists of a vast push towards drives, controls and machines becoming more connected. But like a chain and its weakest link, having more devices connected together means a higher susceptibility to risk. For this reason, having cybersecurity measures that are well-tested is essential. 

According to Forbes, global spending on information security and risk management will reach £101bn during 2020. The cost of a regular cyber-risk assessment is certainly cheaper than the costs incurred after an attack. 

Other than simply having an awareness of cyber-vulnerability, there are companies that specialise in helping organisations to manage their cyber-risks. Training can be given to employees to reduce human error and machines can have regular threat risk analysis checks. The cybersecurity skills gap should not be allowed to continue to grow. As the ability of cyber-thieves is intensifying, the only sufficient counterattack is a workforce with the skill and capability to defend against them. 

Lack of training in cybersecurity is comparable to buying a reinforced steel safe, and then leaving it unlocked. It’s worth implementing a “fire alarm drill”  – an imitation cyber-attack. By imitating an attack on your systems, you can find out where your potential weaknesses may be and attempt to fix them. 

There are numerous established methods to help maintain system security. Modern advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning can help to protect systems against unauthorised access. This technology is continually evolving, and it is important to stay informed. Discover how others in your industry are preparing for the move towards automation and data exchange in manufacturing processes and technologies, by getting in touch with Gambica using the contact details below.  

 

* Gambica is the trade association for the automation, control, instrumentation and laboratory technology sectors in the UK.

For more information, please contact Nikesh Mistry on 020 7642 8094 or via nikesh.mistry@gambica.org.uk




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