Industry 4.0 and Cybersecurity

With the advent of industry 4.0, the Internet of Things (IoT) will be expanded and the comprehensive digitisation of business operations will include physical and digital technologies such as additive manufacturing, robotics, high-performance computing, artificial intelligence and cognitive technologies, advanced materials, and augmented reality.

Connected and smart manufacturing and responsive digital supply networks with tailored products and services are the hallmarks of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) or Industry 4.0. The interconnectedness of industry 4.0 drives the pace of digital transformation which also means that new operational risks have been identified and threat vectors drastically expand and the effects of cyberattacks will be more wide-ranging than before. Manufacturers and their supply networks should be prepared for the risks and cybersecurity strategies should be fully integrated into organisational and information technology strategies.

From linear supply chains to digital supply networks (DSNs) 

Linked to consumer demand, a manufacturing organisation’s supply chain is fundamental to its sustainability. Analytics allow forecasts to determine the quantity of materials necessary, manufacturing line requirements, and distribution channel loads. Through intelligent, connected platforms and devices, Industry 4.0 technologies are expected to evolve the traditional linear supply into digital supply networks (DSNs). These networks will capture and supply data across the value chain resulting in improved management, flow of materials and goods, and more efficient use of resources and supplies.

The disadvantage of the increased real-time interconnectedness is cyber weaknesses that need to be imagined from design through operation and planned and accounted for at every stage.

The cyber risks 

Responsive, agile networks enabled by real-time and open data sharing from all participants in the supply network, create a significant hurdle and organisations should consider ways to secure that information to disallow unauthorised access. Disciplined action will be needed to maintain safety nets across all supporting processes as they may also have access points to other internal and sensitive information.

Incorporating future devices provide robust cryptologic support, hardware authentication, and attestation (that is, detect when unauthorized changes are made to the device). By combining this approach with robust access controls, mission-critical operations technology is secured at the application points and endpoints to protect its data and processes.

Experts suggest that blockchain technology may help with potential payment process risks and changes by creating a historical ledger that is shared by a community 

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New cyber risks in the age of smart production

Smart manufacturing risks will not only increase and diversify, but also possibly evolve exponentially. Specifically, ‘life-critical embedded systems’ will be vulnerable which means all connected devices are at risk. A fundamental change in how security is viewed within Industry 4.0–driven manufacturing with the increased risk and dramatically expanded threat surface is required.

New cyber challenges of connected production 

As production systems grow more connected, cyberthreats increase and broaden beyond those seen in the DSN and may be vulnerable to shutdowns or other attacks. Manufacturers may not be prepared for the cyber risks their connected, smart systems present.

Convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT)

The convergence of IT and OT is one of the hallmarks of smart manufacturing. Manufacturers must thus consider both the digital processes and the machinery and objects that could be impacted by implementing Industry 4.0 technologies. It necessitates introducing several strategic imperatives and operational values along with corresponding cybersecurity actions.

Future proofing smart manufacturing

There are three important phases that smart manufacturers should consider when addressing resilience that relates to cybersecurity: readiness, response, and recovery.


Organisations should ready themselves to deal with all aspects of a cybersecurity incident efficiently. Roles, responsibilities, and actions should be identified, and preparations could be made by using crisis simulations, incident walk-throughs, and Wargaming exercises.


Responses should be planned and communicated well throughout the organisation. Inadequate response plans will only intensify the impact of an incident and result in increased downtime, lost revenue, and damage to an organisation’s reputation. 


Well planned and practiced steps needed to return to normal operations and limit the damage to an organisation are essential. All employees should be debriefed, and an analysis and recommendations should be included in subsequent incident response plans.

A resilient organisation should minimise the effects of an incident and restore operations and security. There is no simple fix or single product or patch available to address the cyber risks and threats presented by Industry 4.0.

The sheer breadth of risks requires a secure, vigilant, and resilient approach to understand the dangers and address the threats. Organisations apply the following strategic approaches

Be secure 

A measured, risk-based approach is essential.

Be vigilant 

Constantly monitor systems, networks, devices, personnel, and the environment for possible threats. 

Be resilient

Careful assessment of response time, recovery and debriefing are essential to remain functional and be resilient.

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