With Detlef Zühlke on the horn for the Passport to Innovation feature in the March issue of Smart Manufacturing magazine, I asked this open-ended question: What is the biggest impediment to the shift to smart manufacturing?
“Cybersecurity is one of the major threats,” Zühlke, one of the fathers of Industrie 4.0, said without hesitation. “We just experienced an external hacker attack on the German internet where up to one-half of the connections were blocked. This makes it clear that even big and well-known telecom companies are not fully prepared for what can happen.”
Zühlke suggested manufacturers in the US think about the costs they would incur if hacking suddenly halted production for two days. “Or, even much worse, what will happen if the recipe of, let’s say, a pharmaceutical product is changed and the change is not recognized? This would be a disaster for the company.”
Two days before the Deutsche Telekom incident, cybercriminals hacked workstations at the San Francisco Municipal Transport Agency.
That November attack involved ransomware—one of the main challenges discussed in this issue’s cover story on cyber defense. Ransomware’s use is growing across all sectors, including manufacturing, Amelia Estwick of the National Cybersecurity Institute at Excelsior College told Smart Manufacturing just after the attack.
At an industry conference in Dallas last April, Mark Weatherford declared that the “year of ransomware” was upon us. In this issue, the vArmour exec says manufacturers skimp on cyber defense, in part because they do not face a cybersecurity compliance requirement similar to what electric utilities face in the US.
The time to act is now: Organized crime has taken to ransomware, and manufacturers are sitting ducks, industrial cybersecurity expert Ralph Langner warns.
Any manufacturing executive waiting for non-compliance fines to justify increased cyber defense spending in the next four years will wait in vain.
Public policy experts who champion smart manufacturing have given Donald Trump a lot of advice. But cyber defense is notably absent.
And while the Trump administration has hinted it might prod the private sector to spend more on cybersecurity tools, services and software, it is unlikely to promote a cybersecurity compliance requirement.