Special video report. Whether it’s Germany’s Industry 4.0, Made in China 2025, or France’s Creative Industry, the goal is to build tomorrow’s factory. But how ? In an effort to find an answer, we went to Saclay near Paris where French researchers and manufacturers are developing and testing tomorrow’s industrial technologies in two lab factories. Watch our investigation report.
Cybersecurity.Mr. Robot got hacked on a fair in France, while WannaCry popularized a new form of cyber-attack: the ransomware.
Tradeshows. We were invited to attend PTC’s 2017 edition of LiveWorx that took place in late May in Boston. Watch our video report on the launch of ThingWorx8, the editor’s new version of its IoT platform.
Mobile and collaborative robots, virtual assembly lines, digital manufacturing. It’s not science fiction, but the fourth industrial revolution. Whether it’s Germany’s Industry 4.0, Made in China 2025, or France’s Creative Industry, the goal is the same—build tomorrow’s factory. The nature of international competition...
Mobile and collaborative robots, virtual assembly lines, digital manufacturing. It’s not science fiction, but the fourth industrial revolution. Whether it’s Germany’s Industry 4.0, Made in China 2025, or France’s Creative Industry, the goal is the same—build tomorrow’s factory. The nature of international competition makes it essential to innovate on the assembly line and modernize manufacturing systems to stay in the game.
How to prepare for this transformation?
In an effort to find an answer, we went to Saclay, near Paris. Here, French researchers and manufacturers are developing and testing tomorrow’s industrial technologies in two lab factories.
Watch our special investigation report on the factory of the future.
Service robots, AGVs, virtual reality. We’re at Industrie Lyon, the largest French industrial trade show. Every two years, 1000 small and medium-sized companies introduce their latest technologies. One of this year’s leading themes is cybersecurity. We’re talking to Manoel Bizien, a Stormshield engineer. Specializing in information security, the company is presenting a new industrial firewall and a cybersecurity plateform, which involved other companies such as Automatique & Industrie, Axians, Schneider and Siemens. Manoel suggests hacking a pharmaceutical industry robot to test the efficacy of the solution. He launches Stuxnet, the worm that attacked an Iranian nuclear plant in 2010. Watch the report.
Last month, more than 126,000 people in more than 100 countries were victim of a massive worldwide ransomeware attack, a form of hacking designed to encrypt the target’s data pending payment of a ransom. The WannaCry cyberattack infected U.K. National Health System, Spanish Telcommunication company Telefonica, French...
Last month, more than 126,000 people in more than 100 countries were victim of a massive worldwide ransomeware attack, a form of hacking designed to encrypt the target’s data pending payment of a ransom. The WannaCry cyberattack infected U.K. National Health System, Spanish Telcommunication company Telefonica, French Automaker Renault, German railway company Deutsche Bahn. Last year, the San Francisco Municipal Transport Agency was the victim of a ransomware attack. DirectIndustry e-magazine investigated this increasingly-common form of cyber attack.
In 2016, San Franciscans took 725,000 daily trips on Muni, the municipal transport system famous for its cable cars. However, on 25 November, some of those seeking to travel found themselves unable to pay fares using Muni ticket machines. The San Francisco Municipal Transport Agency (SFMTA) had fallen victim to a ransomware attack.
The attack affected only office computers, but the SFMTA turned off ticket machines and fare gates as a precaution. The organization said in a statement:
This action was to minimize any potential risk or inconvenience to Muni customers. The primary impact of the attack was to approximately 900 office computers. The SFMTA’s payroll system remained operational, but access to it was temporarily affected.
Nonetheless, this disruption to the seventh largest transport system in the US demonstrates the threat from ransomware attacks to industrial companies and offers a few lessons.
The Birth of a New Threat
Ransomware can infect systems in the same way as any other malware: through malicious payloads attached to emails, phishing scams and direct breaches of network security. Any organization can fall victim to such attacks, but industrial companies should be aware of the potential for hackers to exploit control and engineering systems with ransomware. According to Tim Erlin, vice president of product management and strategy at Tripwire, a software company which helps detect security vulnerabilities:
Whereas industrial systems relied on proprietary technology in the past, there is a general market trend for greater connectedness and more use of standard protocols. This makes them more exposed to the risks inherent in these technologies.
He added that the trend toward connecting older, proprietary technologies to networks offers hackers increased opportunities to exploit their potential vulnerabilities.
Although no cases of ransomware attacks on industrial systems have come to light, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed PLC ransomware to find ways to counter it.
According to a paper published in February 2017,
Industrial control system networks have so far remained largely unscathed by malware, not because they are more secure than traditional networks, but because cybercriminals have yet to figure out a profitable business model to make such attacks worth their time. Recent attacks on hospitals have demonstrated how profitable ransomware can be when used to hold operationally critical assets hostage with the threat of human harm, and reports suggest attackers are beginning to shift their focus to ICS networks.
Spotlight on Attractive Targets
Manufacturing is already the second most common ransomware target, behind the services sector. It is the target of 17 % of attacks, while construction suffers 4% of attacks and transport, utilities and communications get 7%, according to research by security technology firm Symantec.
Andrew Wadsworth, cyber security expert with PA Consulting, says energy, rail and other infrastructure providers could prove lucrative targets for hackers using ransomware to exploit industrial control systems. The perpetrators of these attacks need not necessarily be experts in industrial systems, as these technologies often rely on standard systems, such as Cisco switches and Windows servers, he says.
I suspect that ransomware attackers will go where the money is. They have not necessarily figured out how much money they could make from industrial firms, but if they see that they can cause significant impact, then these companies become attractive targets.
Industrial companies vary in how well prepared they are.
Some do daily anti-virus updates on their control system because they have been built to do that. But there are a lot of legacy systems which are not easy or possible to update in that way because they are a generation out of date. The lifecycle of control systems is longer than general IT systems and there is still a lot of legacy out there.
However, the slow pace of change favors a security technique called whitelisting, which limits systems to running only approved services and applications. In general, whitelisting has been slow to take off, as it can be difficult to manage in complex, fast-moving IT environments. In industrial control systems, there is less complexity and slower change, so whitelisting could prove an efficient and effective defense against ransomware attacks, Wadsworth adds.
The technique is underused, but it’s a very elegant solution in this case.
Meanwhile, industrial firms are well advised to pay attention to basic “security hygiene” to prevent attacks, says Tripwire’s Erlin. They should ensure software patches are up to date, monitor networks for signs of intruders and regularly change passwords.
While it is no defense against attacks, backing up data can make them less effective. The SFMTA was grateful it had the back-up systems to restore its computers within a couple of days.
The SFMTA never considered paying the ransom. We have an information technology team in place that can restore our systems.
But for many industrial control systems, a couple of days might be 48 hours too late.
Dancing laser beams opened PTC’s 2017 edition of LiveWorx that took place in late May at the Boston Exhibition Center. Clients, partners and even Barack Obama’s CTO, Aneesh Chopra, made it to New England for the launch of ThingWorx 8, the software editor ’s new version of its IoT platform. ThingWorx enables customers to easily build apps, merging data from the physical and digital worlds. We were invited to attend PTC CEO Jim Heppelmann’s keynote address. Watch our video report from Boston.
Yaskawa Motoman will introduce its YRC 1000 robot controller at São Paulo’s FEIMAFE 2017 tradeshow this month. The new model can control up to eight robots at a time, is more compact and has a faster processor. The company proposes custom solutions to respond to specific client needs. CEO Icaru Sakuyoshi said the firm’s autonomous robotic systemscan be installed without need for the significant investments required for complete Industry 4.0 conversion. This “smart investment” is suited to companies with limited resources or lacking access to the infrastructure required for the newest standards.
A regular exhibitor at Hannover Messe, German leader Festo presented new potential uses for its superconductivity technology. We met with Susanne Krichel,...
A regular exhibitor at Hannover Messe, German leader Festo presented new potential uses for its superconductivity technology. We met with Susanne Krichel, portfolio manager at Festo. Watch our video interview.
Today, industry faces cyber threats that are constantly evolving. The growing use of IT applications in the OT environment is enlarging digital footprints, at...
Today, industry faces cyber threats that are constantly evolving. The growing use of IT applications in the OT environment is enlarging digital footprints, at the cost of increasing exposure to cyberattack. Effective industrial cybersecurity requires a holistic approach.
Andrew Avanessian is a vice president at security software company Avecto. For him, cybercrime is now the biggest threat facing industrial companies.
The complex supply chains often associated with the industrial sector provide cybercriminals with a multitude of hiding places and easy access to the corporate system.
With the threat of data theft and distributed denials of service, ransomware and malware attacks on the rise, Juniper Research predicts the cost of industrial cybercrime will reach US$2 trillion by 2019. Cybersecurity Ventures expects the figure to climb to US$6 trillion by 2021.
A 2016 survey by analytical service provider HfS Research polled 208 security professionals at companies with over 500 employees. Over half the respondents had experienced data theft or corruption by external cybercriminals. Jamie Snowdon, chief data officer at HfS explains:
Cybercrime is real and the risk for industry is much greater than it was five years ago. It is increasingly hard to keep pace with the variety of cybersecurity threats out there.
Courtesy of SurfWatch Labs
The rise of big data, mobile computing and the IoT is revolutionizing how industrial companies operate. Unfortunately, a huge number of mobile and IoT devices are vulnerable to cyberattack. Guy Rosefelt, web security expert at security solution provider NSFOCUS, explains:
The vast majority of IoT devices have poor security because the software these devices run was never designed with security in mind.
The IoT cybersecurity threat came to prominence last year with the attack on Dyn, a company that controls much of the internet’s domain name system. The botnet, a network of private computers infected with malicious software involved in the attack, was largely made up of IoT devices such as digital cameras and DVRs. For Adam Meyer, chief security strategist at cyber threat solution provider SurfWatch Labs, 2017 will witness increasingly creative IoT attacks.
Vendors will work in new security precautions, but cybercriminals will focus their attention on new ways to leverage IoT devices for their own malicious purposes.
A growing number of companies are now taking steps to boost their cybersecurity, but more is needed. The combination of an inadequate regulatory environment, a lack of awareness and poor IT/OT segmentation means many industrial facilities are still highly exposed to attack, adds Meyer.
A lot of industrial organizations have infrastructure that has been in place for a long time. It’s a real challenge to pivot towards the new reality of today’s cyber threats.
For all industrial sectors, effective organizational cybersecurity is about understanding the company’s operating environment and proactively looking for new and existing threats. Whether it’s being victimized by phishing attacks or the use of unprotected mobile phones with access to enterprise data and networks, humans are generally accepted to be the weakest link in any cybersecurity system.
Poor organizational cybersecurity culture coupled with poor user awareness of cyber threats are the two greatest insider risks to most companies. These are also the cheapest problems to put right and can yield the greatest improvements.
Avecto’s Microsoft Vulnerabilities Report 2016 revealed that 94% of critical Microsoft vulnerabilities were mitigated by simply removing admin rights. Assigning user privileges means that employees are only given access to the applications needed to perform their jobs. Avecto’s Avanessian says:
This technology should be layered with application whitelisting, which ensures that only trusted programs can launch, and content isolation solutions, which keep any potentially malicious online content separate from the corporate system.
Taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity invariably impacts the bottom line. But in the face of intensifying cyber threats, the cost of doing nothing makes action imperative. For HfS Research’s Snowdon,
Companies must adopt a holistic approach to cyber risk mitigation. This should include cybersecurity talent and training, robust testing systems and a budget and finance rethink.