The massive shift towards automation and technology across all industries, also known as Industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution, faced its most significant challenge to date with the COVID-19 pandemic. Resilience, robustness, and maturity of the Industry 4.0 technologies to handle real business use cases putting them to their most significant challenges to date and the technologies delivered. Based on McKinsey’s independent study, businesses that shifted to implementing industry 4.0 solutions have overcome them largely.
This is the closest that we have ever been to Industry 4.0, with the pandemic acting as an inflection point in its adoption. According to the McKinsey study, more than 94% of respondents felt that Industry 4.0 had helped them keep their operations running during the crisis, and 56% said these technologies had been critical to their crisis responses. The global COVID-19 pandemic acted as a reality check for businesses and their efforts towards Industry 4.0, with early adopters reaping the most benefits.
As more and more businesses gain trust in industry 4.0, the large-scale adoption of their technology increases. While a lot safer and efficient than other options, technologies for Industry 4.0 also come with risks and threats of their own. Being aware of cybersecurity risks and controlling these technologies’ hazards should be a top priority for all businesses.
Some threats that expedited in recent times:
1. Hasty Digitalization
Countries imposed lockdowns and physically going to markets came to a halt, forcing a large number of businesses to shift to the online medium overnight to continue running their businesses. Often businesses were new and not used to the digital world. And a number of them compromised the quality of platforms’ security and made themselves susceptible to cybersecurity threats, data leaks, etc., by not focusing on safety. According to a report by Deloitte, more than half a million video conferencing users globally were affected by breaches between February and May 2020 alone, and their personal data was stolen and sold on the digital web.
2. Uncontrolled Data Explosion
There was a massive shift of businesses and a massive shift of users to the online world. The volume of online transactions went high, and all companies had to scale up their online presence and handle large amounts of data. It is estimated that one in 36 cell phones have high-risk applications installed. And about 80% of all web application breaches use stolen credentials. Not handling large amounts of data properly, like not verifying user profiles, can create vulnerabilities for online businesses and users. It is easy to make one wrong decision, and before you know it, you become a target of a cybersecurity attack.
3. Unsafe Entry Points
While the Internet of Things and the adoption of intelligent devices form an integral part of the shift to Industry 4.0, they are also one of the most susceptible to cyber risks. In 2020. According to the latest Nokia Threat Report, the Internet of Things (IoT) was responsible for 32.72% of all infections observed in mobile networks, with the number of affected devices suffering an increase of over 100%. With the increasing proliferation of IoT, the report expects the number of IoT infections to continue growing dramatically.
With the market cap of Industry 4.0 expected to reach $214 billion by the end of 2023 and increasing access to more and more data because of the pandemic, the number of cyberattacks has grown considerably. TechRepublic reported a 667% rise in spear-phishing attacks in March 2020 alone, and by April, the FBI had seen a 400% increase in cyber attacks. All in all, roughly 70% of organizations hosting data or workloads in the public cloud experienced a security incident last year.
While the task of managing cyber risk in the hyperconnected world of Industry 4.0 seems daunting, it is imperative to take immediate action to mitigate risks as much as we can.
Here are some of the top techniques recommended by Forbes that we can implement to stop cybersecurity attacks the best we can:
1. Agile Cybersecurity Strategies
Not so long ago, it used to be acceptable to review and update cybersecurity strategies during an annual audit. But in today’s continuously changing and updating threat landscape, risks get updated and improved every minute. Having a continually updated, frequently visited agile cybersecurity strategy is a necessity. Whenever strategic insights and intelligence can significantly affect a company’s risk, we should consider harnessing cyberthreat discovery to the fullest.
2. Careful Monitoring of Vulnerabilities
Any device, application, or software with direct, remote, or even indirect access to the organization’s systems needs close monitoring. Mapping out the entire overlay of connection points allows security teams to evaluate weaknesses and tighten controls. Real-time connection monitoring, visualizing and relaying alerts for any abnormal, unverified behavior to avoid security breaches plays a vital role in mitigating risks associated with Industry 4.0.
3. Controlling Access
With millions of industrial sensors deployed to collect data and relay information from one endpoint to another, it becomes vital that one edge device’s vulnerabilities and shortcomings do not jeopardize the entire ecosystem’s security. The organization must take care that these devices residing at the network’s geographically dispersed edge don’t interfere with the system’s core functioning. Regular software patch-ups, vulnerability assessments must also be frequently done by the business to avoid hacking activities.
4. Usage of AI/ML
Technology advancement in risk containerization, threat segmentation, network zoning, and profiling has led to their extensive utilization in strengthening a company’s cyber posture. Organizations are also using language recognition through NLP and behavioral pattern mapping to improve risk management techniques and policies.
Preventing cyber attacks and improving cybersecurity has always been a concern for businesses in the digital world. With the increasing adoption of industry 4.0, the threats and stakes have also magnified. Our responsibility is to ensure that our data and our user’s data remain safe, and for that, we need to stay vigilant and observant.