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Ervin highlighted that as capital expenditure into automating manufacturing spaces increased, more and more projects have been started simultaneously. This rush to automate and evolve systems with new Internet of Things (IoT) tech has created what he described as a fractured approach to cyber security.  

With so many devices and systems going into the factory, it’s crucial that considerations into cyber security need to be part of the planning phase. 

Plan for cyber-security  

“It’s critically important to make sure that from a planning standpoint, the security teams are working with the engineering an operations teams as these new projects and initiatives are spun up,”​ said Ervin. 

“Design can be baked into the project as it evolves, rather than trying to ‘wrap’ security at the eleventh hour when resources are tight, when you’re more apt to accept a risk on the cyber front in order to meet schedule.” 

Ervin also talked about the biggest threats facing connected systems, specifically phishing and ransomware. Manufacturers can be susceptible to such attacks, since their networks are somewhat ‘flat’ in nature – everything from emails to controllers on the shop floor all run on the same network to create efficiencies. Should such a cyber-attack go through, it could immediately threaten food production. 

Company culture  

While making sure that the company culture is one that is aware of the threat of these scams, robust controls also need to be in place to help prevent any potential attacks from damaging the system.