Enhancing Competitiveness Through Cybersecurity

  • Jan 16, 2024, 09:01 AM

In today’s interconnected landscape, the potential harm caused by cyberattacks on industrial facilities cannot be overstated. One alarming example of this vulnerability emerged from an incident at a petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia. This plant was infected with malware, which if successful, could have triggered toxic gas release and explosions.

Although this malware attack was unsuccessful and did not cause any injuries or major disruptions, it served as a wake-up call to the potential dangers cyberattacks can pose. Not only do these attacks create financial burden, but they put lives at risk.

Thankfully, safeguarding your connected chemical plant does not need to compete with your bottom line. The same technology that helps protect your plant can also improve your plant’s efficiency.

How to build a more secure and productive chemical plant

There are several ways that implementing cybersecurity measures can help keep your system safe from malware attacks while making your plant more competitive.

Monitor real-time inventory data 

Cyberthreats are a challenge when you’re unaware of potential targets within your operation. Therefore, it’s important to stay updated on your equipment and systems, identifying at-risk assets and creating countermeasures.

Traditional inventory methods can be time consuming and lack real-time insights. By implementing the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), you can expand your tracking capabilities. Software and connected services give you access to continuous, real-time inventory of operational equipment, so you can monitor potential risks to your system.
For example, it helps keep you updated on security advisories, firmware updates and new patch releases. IIoT also has the ability to enhance operational management, reducing downtime risks.

Gain visibility on your assets

Understanding how, when, and where your assets are used is essential to maintain a safe and efficient chemical plant.

Threat-detection services can spot abnormal behavior across your chemical network, identifying potential threats such as external security attacks. Early detection of a cyberattack can help your operators eliminate threats before significant damage is done.

In addition to identifying cyberattacks, threat-detection services can spot common human errors and operational issues. Early detection of non-malicious errors can help to avoid production disruptions.

Outsource asset management

Each chemical plant is uniquely complex. Utilizing suppliers can add another layer of protection. Suppliers know your equipment better than anyone, so they can be trusted to be proactive about maintenance, comply with cybersecurity protocols and provide transparency on process-control network data. By staying on top of maintenance and regulations, suppliers can help your chemical plant be as safe and productive as possible.

Follow security best practices

There are a few security best practices — known as defense in depth — that every chemical company should use to achieve a fundamental level of security.

For example, change the default sign-ins used in any new network equipment, use software with built-in authentication, and require workers to back up critical operational assets regularly. Each of these tasks, while potentially costly and time consuming, can help save you from major setbacks in the event of an attack.

Create a disaster response and recovery plan

While it’s important to be proactive with cybersecurity, not all attacks can be prevented. If a security incident does take place, you must follow a preconceived plan of action to help your plant recover as quickly as possible.

Your response plan should include the detailed steps workers must take to return to a fully operational state.

How are you incorporating cybersecurity measures?

Consider your own plant and evaluate how you can apply some of these practices to help keep your equipment and data safe. A cybersecurity strategy is key. It can help identify where cyberthreats may exist and improve performance of your connected chemical plant.

Learn more about improving your cybersecurity with SMC to stay competitive in this everchanging space.  

Article Source: Rockwell Automation