Thirty years ago, the world-wide-web made its first appearance, setting off a new standard for modern technology. Since its inception, an abundance of new communication technologies, many upgrades and advancements have left companies, and especially manufacturing plants, with a mish-mosh of hardware and equipment. Some items tried and true, some outdated, some collecting dust on a shelf in a server room that once served as someone’s office. Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
Old and outdated hardware and poor cable management can cause issues with your data speed and security. Dips in performance can be a result of many factors including cable runs that are too long, large sprawling networks without segmentation, and more. Cyber security requires change continuously and must to be monitored, weighted, and possibly implemented to be sure your plant is not at-risk of an unexpected shut down or worse, a malicious attack.
So how do you keep track of all the assets on your network? Do you have a spreadsheet? Who keeps it updated? Oops – what do you mean – it isn’t accurate? This is not uncommon. Do you have a replacement plan for outdated equipment? Not yet, but you’ve been meaning to get there? Join the party. Who is monitoring your plant floor cyber security? No, we shouldn’t even go there?
“If you don’t know the answer to any one of these questions, you and your company are not lone soldiers.”
These are the things almost all our customers are struggling with. Plant floor maintenance personnel tend not to have the same networking experience as IT and we know you have the best of intentions, but the time to try to figure it out is hard to come by. However, every month, we get more calls about automation equipment issues that actually turn out to be network issues. So, this blog is here to tell you…. In a really nice way, you should consider getting a handle on it.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to get a handle on this is to consider having someone come in and do an overall Network and Security Assessment. Typically, these provide a full view into the current state of your plant manufacturing network including the physical infrastructure and the active technology design.
They come in a few different flavors, but typically include options that sound like:
What do we recommend? Based on years of experience we now suggest starting with #2 – an overall design and current state assessment versus industry standards. Yes, we partner and sell them all, but this seems to be a tried and true starting point to give you solid, actionable information at a reasonable price tag.
An overall audit will provide you with a snapshot of your entire installed networking equipment and cabling system which will then be compared to the appropriate standards like ISA-99/IEC62443, industry design best practices, life-cycle/obsolescence databases, and typical cyber security protocols. The report provides a detailed gap analysis in three key areas including: physical topography, active technology topology and security.
This assessment will also provide recommendations, design guidance, generally accepted practices, methodology, and documented configuration settings to help establish a robust and secure network infrastructure. Built on industry standards and a future-ready network foundation, the assessment is based on manufacturing-focused reference architectures that address today’s applications.
No matter which direction you head in, head in one of them and know that Rumsey is here with you through each step of this process. After a complete current state design, hardware and life cycle evaluation is completed, Rumsey will review potential network improvement opportunities and recommendations based on criticality. A security analysis is also completed to identify gaps prioritized by risk to ensure the availability, confidentiality, and integrity of the Industrial Automation Control System (IACS) data.
Want to learn more? Answer two questions to request a Network Assessment Quote.