Digital Technologies Transforming Industrial Site & Cyber Security

Industrial cyber security is more important than ever before. Here, OKdo highlights the top five digital technologies that are transforming these fields.

5 digital technologies that are transforming industrial site and cyber security

With advancements in tech come advancements in the threat of cybersecurity breaches. As we live in a time when almost everything that we do is conducted and monitored online, cybercriminals are becoming increasingly savvy, finding new ways to access our digital data.

To counter the risk of sensitive information falling into the wrong hands or systems being manipulated or deleted in a cyberattack, businesses are stepping up protective measures and putting in place digital security systems.

Digital technologies are being used to toughen up industrial site security. Here, we look at what industrial cyber security is and round up the digital innovations that are transforming site and cyber security for businesses and industries.

What is industrial cyber security?

Industrial cyber security, or ICS, is the process of protecting industrial control systems from the threats posed by cyber attackers. Industrial control systems are where hardware and software are integrated with network connectivity, and these integrated systems are used to operate industrial processes.

It is particularly important that there are robust protective and preventative measures in place within industrial and critical infrastructure in order to keep a step ahead. Cyberthreats in industrial settings can lead to disruption or loss of availability and, in some cases, could be a risk to the environment and safety of the public.

Industrial cyber security includes several procedures that are designed to prevent and protect from cyberattacks. These include:

  • Asset inventory and detection – automated solutions are used to discover and identify assets connected to the network.
  • Secure remote access – ironing out weaknesses in any remote access technologies to industrial control systems.
  • User and access management – access is given to only those who need it using security measures like firewalls.

The difference between industrial cyber security and traditional IT security

There are similarities between industrial cyber security and traditional IT security – specifically that both are concerned with protecting data. However, it’s worth noting that the risks addressed by industrial cyber security can be even broader than a breach in confidentiality. Here, the day-to-day functioning of industrial processes can be vulnerable, as can be the safety of personnel and property.

Also, the types of device used in older IT systems differ to those used in industrial control systems, necessitating a more advanced approach to addressing risks on the part of industrial organisations. They require practical solutions to protect their people, business and reputation all at once, and digital technologies can fill that gap. Here are but a few of them.

AI video surveillance

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning offer the ability to analyse and understand huge volumes of data. This is especially useful when applied to video surveillance technologies. Where once we would have to spend hours watching footage captured over extended time periods, we now have autonomous surveillance cameras to pick up on suspicious activity.

Preventing intruders from getting on site and accessing systems up close is an important factor when planning cyber security. AI video analysis can flag any anomalies. For instance, high-tech, AI-enabled surveillance equipment combined with data-capturing, network-connected sensors can be programmed to spot an intruder. Information is captured immediately and unusual activity alerted to the relevant individuals, making it possible to prevent a breach.

Autonomous drones

Drones have become increasingly popular in recent years and drone technology is improving in line with the rapidity of adoption. In terms of industrial site and cyber security, they can be programmed to patrol an area, providing an aerial view of a site.

These drones can send information quickly to the relevant contact point, reducing the need for human patrols and making situations that could be unsafe to people much less of a risk.

For example, a smart drone can be used to observe any signs of intruders on an industrial site and this can often be done much faster than by a person physically going to investigate. The drone can spot the unusual activity and quickly relay the information, allowing those who are observing the captured information to take action without getting into any danger.

IoT sensors

The Internet of Things (IoT) connects everyday objects to digital technologies. Connecting IoT sensors to industrial security networks around a site can move security beyond traditional CCTV. IoT sensors work well with AI video surveillance systems, capturing data in real time and making it possible to make quick decisions based on the information received.

However, as this is information that’s being transferred wirelessly between devices, there’s an added risk of hackers accessing the network, so it’s crucial to ensure that tough data security is in place in order to prevent a cyberattack.

While security for hardware and software is built in when the parts and programs are designed, there’s an increased likelihood that hackers will know how to get around some of these security measures. This is especially the case if it’s the same rudimentary security protocol across different software packages and hardware components. Therefore, to reduce the risk of your IoT devices and the data that they capture falling into the wrong hands, including strong encryption and extra security steps is wise.

Proactive cybersecurity systems

As we’ve already mentioned, cybercriminals know their way around traditional cybersecurity approaches – which means that these original measures are becoming outdated. In their place, procedures such as protocol inspections and rules-based monitoring are being introduced to form proactive systems that are one step ahead of would-be hackers.

When improving industrial site security, it can be beneficial to think through the extra measures in place. Protocol inspections, for example, can include checking encrypted web traffic and deep packet inspections, where the data that’s transmitted is analysed as a function of the firewall. Here, anything that doesn’t comply or is potentially harmful, such as virus, is removed before it can cause any damage.

With rules-based monitoring, any anomalies are identified. These can include an unusually high number of transactions or strange transaction patterns. This monitoring system flags the irregularities.

Cloud data

While traditional onsite security measures remain important in terms of protecting industrial sites, security is stepped up when we introduce the cloud. Cloud-based technology has been crucial in building IoT systems and AI computing systems.

Security hardware, firewalls and intrusion detection can all be virtual, with information captured and stored in the cloud. This provides protection that’s more resistant to cybercrime as it’s more difficult for hackers to breach and easier to add extra security measures.

Although criminals are becoming savvy to the cloud-based systems, it’s possible to keep ahead of the hackers by businesses opting for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), for example. Here, cloud-based computing services are supplied by an external cloud services provider, delivering a remote service that takes away the need for internal servers that can be accessed by hackers. This adds an extra step in the security process and an extra layer of protection.

Introduce digital industrial cyber security tech systems to your organisation

By adding extra systems and keeping up with the latest updates, it can be possible to enhance industrial site security. Linking sensors to IoT devices or investing in IaaS, for instance, can level up security measures and improve protections.

It’s possible to introduce some of these digital security measures by setting up AI systems and IoT devices within your own industrial setting. Find out how to do this by taking a look at our dedicated Smart World hub or our collection of articles and guides.

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