When discussing cybersecurity in Industry 4.0, we usually refer to preventing the OT systems, such as PLC, SCADA or HMI, from cyberattacks. Embedded security, secure communication, and data availability are some of the most important aspects of the Industry 4.0 sector. As specialists in the cybersecurity field, we’d like to introduce you to the measures and standards that can be implemented to protect IoT devices against cyber threats. 

What cybersecurity risks do manufacturers face? 

Cyberattacks on OT systems in Industry 4.0 are a growing threat. Damage done by cyberattacks may block production and result in significant financial loss for the affected company. The level of cybersecurity risk results from the context in which the device is used. The highest risk is associated with critical devices, which, if controlled in an unauthorised way, could cause severe consequences for the business. In the past, it was only possible to control the device if one had physical access to it.

Nowadays, in the IoT devices era, it’s possible to control them remotely, which makes them susceptible to cyberattacks. That’s why it’s vital to emphasise the protection of the external interfaces of our system. It’s also key to securing our internal network, through which the critical devices are connected. 

Another risk is associated with data processing. The data the company stores may range from customer details to confidential projects or blueprints. A data breach can be devastating to the company but also, in certain cases, dangerous to the whole society, for example, when there’s a data leakage from military equipment manufacturers. By identifying and managing any vulnerable areas of their system, companies can ensure the chances of an attack are as low as possible. 

How to protect IoT devices against cyber threats?  

We should start by determining what exactly requires to be protected. By default, we can’t 100% protect everything because it often entails high costs and significant time investment. We need to decide on what should be protected and to what extent.

A popular method to do that is Threat Assessment and Remediation Analysis (TARA). It allows us to assess which risks are the biggest, what the possible cyber threats are, what the impact would be, and how we can protect our systems and minimise those risks. The information collected through the analysis is a base for cybersecurity engineers to choose the most suitable technological solutions for cyber protection.  

With the development of technology, more and more advanced solutions are emerging.  AI is slowly stepping into the game, but for now, it’s used mainly in enterprise software context, not embedded. AI is used, for example, to protect corporate networks by identifying activity patterns, which may help spot cyberattacks. In the case of embedded software, the use of AI for cybersecurity is subject to research. Currently, there are no commercial AI-based tools for embedded software cybersecurity. However, with the growing complexity of embedded systems, it will be more and more challenging to identify cyberattacks without specialised tools helping to spot unusual activity in the IoT network.  

Develop a cybersecurity strategy 

The lack of a plan and strategy related to cyber security in the organisation poses a high threat. One of the elements of such a strategy is an update plan for embedded and non-embedded software. Such a strategy should state how often the updates should be done, whether the updates can be automated or not, and what additional activities should be performed before it’s determined that a machine is critical to the process and its malfunction may pose a security threat. In companies where there’s no update strategy in place, the systems are much more prone to cyberattacks due to the fact that bug-fix patches are not implemented regularly.   

Follow industry standards 

IEC 62443 is an international series of standards that address cybersecurity for operational technology in industrial automation and control systems throughout their lifecycle. IEC 62443 addresses not only the technical but also process-related aspects of systems cybersecurity. It takes a risk-based approach to cybersecurity, which means that users must identify what is most valuable and requires the most protection.  

The IEC 62443 standards define requirements for key stakeholder groups, like end users, automation product suppliers, etc., who are involved in industrial automation and control system cybersecurity. It’s also worth noting that IEC 62443 addresses cybersecurity throughout the whole system’s lifecycle.  

The standards describe how security should be managed in general across various areas of industry. Of course, specific requirements will be different in each area. IEC 62443 defines the ways to protect the systems in a physical way, how the access to certain areas should be planned out, or how the security management for suppliers should be managed. The standards also describe the security requirements for developing new functionalities, subsystems or components.  

IEC 62443 is organised into four parts:  

  • General – includes core terminology, concepts and models. 
  • Policies and Procedures – defines the requirements for effective cybersecurity management throughout the system’s lifecycle. 
  • System – focuses on cybersecurity requirements at the system level. 
  • Components and Requirements – provides guidelines on secure product development lifecycle. 

Hire a Cybersecurity manager 

The cybersecurity manager is responsible for managing the processes related to cybersecurity in a company and making sure they are compliant with adopted cybersecurity standards and internal procedures. What is more, their job is to observe all the operations occurring across the network and manage the infrastructure used for these operations. If there’s a threat, it’s the cybersecurity manager’s task to mitigate these risks. They are also responsible for conducting regular cybersecurity audits to find any areas that require improvement. 

We follow cybersecurity standards in Industry 4.0 software development 

At Spyrosoft, we address cybersecurity from three angles: 

  • We ensure the security of managing data in an organisation (we have a TISAX certification), 
  • We conduct technical, enterprise-level solutions security analysis that includes improvement recommendations and pentesting, 
  • We develop secure embedded software solutions compliant with IEC 62443 cybersecurity standards. 

If you’re interested to learn more about how we can support you in developing industrial and control embedded systems fully compliant with IEC 62443 cybersecurity standards, visit our Industry 4.0 offering page.  

About the author

Małgorzata Kruszyńska

Malgorzata Kruszynska

Business Researcher