The increasing convergence of Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) in modern manufacturing environments enables big gains in productivity, efficiency and innovation.
Until just a few years ago, every plant was a silo unto itself. Now, data from geographically disbursed plants can be easily shared through the cloud; detailed information about production inputs and output yields can be accurately measured across the entire enterprise; automated machine learning models can analyze process efficiency; and a growing number of inexpensive Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices and sensors capture data that previously was limited to Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and Distributed Control Systems (DCS).
While the OT-IT convergence presents unprecedented potential for significant returns, it also increases the potential for damaging cyberattacks on systems that used to be isolated and out of harm’s reach. Hacking is an active threat, underscored every time a high profile incident makes the news.
The impacts can be steep. Manufacturing for the government or critical infrastructure is a prime target for espionage and intellectual property theft. System outages, especially with high-value manufacturing, can impose significant financial consequences.
While controlled shutdowns even for basic maintenance are costly enough, an unexpected outage from a cyberattack can mean painful losses for every production minute lost.
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