Dec 7, 2023

Securing the Supply Chain: A Spotlight on Cyber Security in Manufacturing with YCSC and AMRC

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Exalens CTO, Dr. Ryan Heartfield gave a presentation on "Cyber-Physical Detection & Response and the Future of OT Monitoring and Security" in an important gathering hosted by the Yorkshire Cyber Security Cluster (YCSC) at The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). Dr. Heartfield delved into the intricacies of the evolving cyber-physical threat landscape in manufacturing along with the challenges and innovations that the industry faces in the era of cyber threats.

Main Highlights:

  1. Current State of Manufacturing:
    While the advancements of connectivity and automation in the industry optimise operations and minimise downtime, they have inadvertently exposed the sector to an array of cyber threats. Disturbingly, manufacturing stands as the primary target of cybercriminals, with over 90% of victimised firms being SMEs, often resulting in extended downtimes.
  2. Challenges in OT Security:
    • Limited security controls and visibility compared to traditional IT networks.
    • Aging equipment with extended operational lifetimes, rendering them difficult to update.
    • Embedded platforms in most OT/ICS systems limit visibility.
    • Heterogeneous, often proprietary, protocols complicate the security landscape.
    • The difficulty in distinguishing between system faults, equipment malfunctions, and genuine cyber threats due to limited holistic visibility.
  3. Fragmented Responses:
    The lack of integration between IT and OT responses aggravates the scenario. With each operating in silos, there's an evident fragmentation in both technological and human-centric response mechanisms.
  4. The Growing Threat Landscape:
    The post-2020 era has seen a shift from cyber-espionage to attacks causing tangible, physical disruptions. The frequency of these attacks has surged dramatically, with projections pointing to a potential 100-fold increase by 2027.
  5. The Interconnected Industrial Ecosystem:
    Recent incidents, like the 2022 ransomware attack affecting Toyota, exemplify the vulnerabilities inherent within interconnected industrial systems. The ramifications of such attacks are multi-dimensional, affecting not just the targeted organisation but cascading through the supply chain due to the integrated nature of modern operations.
  6. The Need for Cyber-Physical detection and Response Capabilities:
    The same connectivity and automation built into systems for efficiency can and should be leveraged for detection and response to maximise resilience for an industry that is constantly in the crosshairs and desperately needs to balance risk and costs from working between modern and legacy systems.

About Exalens

The Exalens has developed an AI-powered XDR platform for OT and IIoT. The solution features process monitoring, anomaly detection, and cybersecurity threat detection, all in one unified platform for cyber-physical systems. It protects IT, OT, IIoT assets and optimises production operations.

For more information on the Exalens platform, please visit, email or call +44 (0) 208152 4467.