Manufacturers can use today’s technologies to safeguard people, places, data, and assets—plus add insight into new business prospects.

Manufacturing Physical Network Security, Industry Today

by Juan Vela, Global Head of Market Strategy, Cisco Meraki

For more than a year, you’ve faced a range of crippling disruptions—everything from supply-chain challenges to a global pandemic to a restructured workforce. But through it all, there were consistencies: change, security, and budgets.

Between remote employees, Internet of Things (IoT), operational and technology changes (e.g., rapid rollout or expansion of cloud), and the accelerated deployment of Industry 4.0 solutions, ensuring the safety of people, places, data, and things has never been more necessary or, seemingly, more complex. To put things into perspective, manufacturing was the second-most-attacked industry (after energy) in 2020, with a median loss of $100,000, compared with a median loss of $12,000 in 2019, said Hiscox.

Three-quarters of manufacturers’ attacks were external and about one-fourth came from within,  said Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report. Attackers primarily used malware for financial gain (73%) or espionage (27%); others were employees (or ex-employees) who used their authorizations to damage or steal company assets, the DBIR said.

The post-pandemic world will require vigorous and persistent attention to security, an efficient way to identify and track assets, plus a smart way to ensure people and assets are safe.

Power of platform

To streamline functions, gain new insights, and enhance protection, IT leaders seek solutions—like cameras and sensors—that target both network and physical security.

Some cloud-based cameras automatically encrypt data and provide built-in analytics. These cameras store video locally, which ensures critical network activities get the bandwidth they need.

Similarly, IoT sensors featuring remote monitoring, flexible alerts, and real-time visibility give increased awareness into your network infrastructure.

Patch a day

The malware community never sleeps—and that means your network security team can’t afford to take a break. Unfortunately, there are too many examples of patches that didn’t happen, which were then used to break into a network. In a recent report from Cisco, only 56% of SMBs patched security vulnerabilities daily or weekly.

A cloud-based solution with automated, always-on patching and upgrades eliminates that headache. When your team is free from day-to-day maintenance worries, it can focus on projects that bring business value.

Plus you can get a consolidated view into your entire connected infrastructure as it protects and informs of known—and unknown—zero-day threats as they develop in the wild.

Stop sticky fingers

On the physical front, 75% of employees have stolen from their companies at least once. This crime costs $50 billion annually, and one-third of every business failure is the direct result of employee theft.

Protecting inventory is smart business, but nothing is more crucial than safeguarding people. Manufacturers already valued their teams: the last year or so further underscored this fact and you were encouraged to find innovative ways to protect everyone.

Manufacturers increasingly rely on smart camera solutions for security and safety. These offerings are driving the total video surveillance camera market to worldwide sales of $44 billion by 2025, up from $23.6 billion in 2019.

Where is that?

Sometimes, it’s simple error that puts inventory at risk.

Beacons on inventory and other high-value assets give real-time information about location, making it tougher to steal and eliminate inadvertent misplacement.

More than one in four businesses don’t track inventory, and the implications are significant. Lost inventory is expensive, whether it results in duplicate replacement orders, obsolete items, staff spending time locating the products, or angry customers whose shipments arrive late.

Noosa Yoghurt, for example, uses smart cameras to curtail product loss and improve security. The cameras’ motion-search feature eliminates the IT team’s need to watch hours of footage to detect product loss. Instead, they simply select a particular area of the camera view to investigate.

Delivering with data

Smart cameras do much more than help control theft and loss.

Analytics-equipped cameras provide insight into usage trends, systems that may suffer unplanned downtime, and other business drivers. Data from sensors also sheds light on processes and procedures, potential mechanical weaknesses, and other crucial information.

Protecting people’s health and well-being is even more critical. Organizations can streamline compliance with existing and new industry and government safety requirements.

Smart cameras can, for example, learn to identify sounds like emergency vehicle sirens and alarms. Upon a notification, they can then deliver immediate insight into the number of people who were in an area, ensuring nobody is left behind. They also can prevent overcrowding and maximize building usage.

Into the future

Security has always been integral to manufacturing, and now cloud-based technologies can infuse your organization’s network and physical protection.

Thinking holistically, these solutions can help your team deliver more than a barricade against those who would do you harm. They also can open a door to savings and new opportunities around the world or around the corner.

Juan Vela Cisco Meraki, Industry Today
Juan Vela

Juan Vela is Global Head of Market Strategy at Cisco Meraki, where he helps lead strategic market direction and short- and long-term vision to build and grow Meraki’s objectives and solution offerings.

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