More connected industrial workers: How are companies mitigating risk?

With more remote connections to industrial plants and facilities, risk of cybersecurity breaches has increased. What risk mitigation is in place?

By Sid Snitkin March 9, 2022
Image courtesy: Brett Sayles

 

Learning Objectives

  • Industrial remote workers have increased the number of remote connections.
  • Cybersecurity risk increases with more remote connections.
  • How are industrial companies mitigating risk?

Connected workers are appearing in every industry and industrial activity. Off-site employees and vendors with remote access to operational technology (OT) systems are reducing facility downtimes and travel costs. Worker productivity in plants has increased with instant access to external resources and subject matter experts (SMEs). Connectivity also is enabling broader use of productivity-enhancing technologies such as cloud analytics and augmented reality (AR).

Enabling connectivity within OT systems generates significant benefits, but it also increases the risks of serious cyber incidents. Every time an external device gains access to an OT system the risks of malware injection and data loss increase. Every time a worker uses an OT device to access the internet, a new pathway is opened for external attacks.

How are companies addressing increased risk from connected workers

ARC Advisory group announced a survey on Feb. 2 to understand what companies are doing to address the cyber risks of connected worker activities. Link to the survey below. Those taking the survey will receive a report of the findings to help explain how connected worker OT cybersecurity strategies compare among peers, identify weaknesses, and justify investments to close critical gaps. Survey results will also be shared with industrial cybersecurity attendees at the ARC Forum in Orlando Florida, June 6-9, 2022. Individual survey results are confidential, only appearing in aggregate; your identity will not be released to others.

Sid Snitkin is an ARC Advisory Group analyst. ARC Advisory Group is a CFE Media and Technology content partner. The original version of this article appears in an ARC Advisory Group blog post. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

KEYWORDS: Cybersecurity, remote workers

CONSIDER THIS

What have you done to lower cybersecurity risk as the number of remote connections have increased?

ONLINE

Answer ARC Advisory Group’s questions on industrial cybersecurity and connected workers.

Get more about cybersecurity from Industrial Cybersecurity Pulse.

Get more about cybersecurity from Control Engineering.

Original content can be found at Control Engineering.


Sid Snitkin
Author Bio: Sid Snitkin is an ARC Advisory Group analyst.