Securing data and devices has grown more challenging for manufacturers due to the explosion of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The number of industrial IoT connections is expected to reach 36.8 billion by 2025, with smart manufacturing accounting for 60% of those connections.

Manufacturers utilize IoT throughout the plant floor—from cameras inspecting production lines to sensors monitoring environmental conditions to on-machine devices for predictive maintenance and productivity monitoring. A recent study found that almost half of manufacturing executives expect increases in operational efficiency from investments in IoT that connect machines and automate processes. 

Manufacturing gets SASE

But the benefits of IoT don’t come without drawbacks. With a variety of IoT devices and operational technologies, more computing workloads shift to the network edge where devices connect to the internet. This can create potential security risks.

An AT&T cybersecurity insights report shows that the primary cyberattack concern for manufacturers is attacks against user and endpoint devices—a worry cited by 71% of manufacturers. That worry is well-founded—according to Cisco Umbrella, manufacturing is the leading industry for cybersecurity ransomware attacks on endpoints.

In the past, manufacturers had to rely on home-grown solutions that were scattered throughout production environments to secure IoT devices. They weren’t connected and generally required time-consuming, tedious manual updates to maintain a strong security posture.  

Today, more and more manufacturers are looking at a platform approach, with cloud-based security and networking providing a more unified security strategy. Manufacturing respondents to a recent AT&T survey indicated that 50% are combining cybersecurity and network functions in the cloud, referred to as Secure Access Service Edge (SASE).

A SASE architecture benefits manufacturers by converging security and network connectivity. This centralizes policy and access control, simplifying the challenge of securing devices, protecting data, and continually enhancing threat detection and response.

Building more resilient manufacturing operations

A cloud-native platform with security at its core can help build more resilient manufacturing operations through stronger networks, automated threat intelligence, global scale, and simplicity of management. This platform approach to securing IoT in manufacturing environments should provide:

  • Resilience through visibility: IT and security teams gain a single view of their global networks and security policies, managed in a simple, unified experience, so they can identify anomalies, assess risk, and mitigate threats faster and more consistently.
  • Resilience through scale: With threat data amassed across millions of networks, security teams benefit from a global capacity to detect, adapt, and defend against new cybersecurity threats. These same cloud-management platforms are also battle-tested to handle the volume of data and devices required to effectively run sophisticated manufacturing infrastructure.   
  • Resilience through intelligence: World-class threat intelligence provides the expertise needed across networks, endpoints, cloud environments, virtual systems, and daily web and email traffic to protect against newly identified vulnerabilities.
  • Resilience through simplicity: Complexity is the enemy of security. Simplifying the relationship between data security, network security, and security intelligence can better protect the customer and encourage policy adherence by end users.

With so many devices continuing to join the IoT ranks, manufacturers need to prepare for what’s next with cloud-based network security. Learn how Meraki can help manufacturers future-proof their operations and become more resilient, and discover more about our SASE offering.