Where does your work site fit into the 3 phases of Industry 4.0?

Dec 16, 2020

modern industrial factory for the production of electronic components - machinery, interior and equipment of the production hall

The 3 phases of digitization are engineer-operated, hybrid-operated, and computer-operated. Each of these 3 phases represents a differing level of automation. By knowing where a work site falls on this spectrum, we can also know which solutions are needed to secure assets and safeguard operations from disruption by cyber incidents.



The first phase of Industry 4.0, engineer-operated, has the lowest adoption rate for automation technology. Staff might have limited experience dealing with cyber threats. Meanwhile, the network is likely to be flat and easy-access — both to trusted teammates and to malicious intruders.


For these kinds of work sites, network segmentation revolutionizes cybersecurity, and for this phase TXOne Networks’ EdgeIPS is the ideal network segmentation solution. Designed for placement in front of mission-critical assets, an EdgeIPS node creates an easily-secured zone based on which assets need to communicate with each other, halting bad actors and boosting visibility. EdgeIPS, like the other solutions we’ll mention here, supports the use of zero trust-based policies, giving privileges to users only as needed.



Facilities in the second phase of digitization, hybrid-operated, use a mix of older “legacy” and modernized assets. This mixture of legacy and modernized assets makes it difficult to create a unified security posture that covers all the bases. Unsecured legacy devices in particular create serious security gaps, potentially opening up the entire network to attack.


EdgeFire, our next generation firewall, comes equipped with many specialized defensive technologies, one of which is specifically designed with legacy assets in mind: virtual patching. This is a network-based technology that puts a shield around unsecured devices to protect their vulnerabilities from exploitation. EdgeFire is designed specifically to manage the convergence of IT and OT, is sensitive to 50+ common ICS protocols, and can segment the entire network into security zones.



The third phase of Industry 4.0, computer-operated, is also sometimes called “IP-ization”, because by this phase every on-site asset is likely to have its own IP. Failsafety and redundancy are highly necessary in such a highly-automated work environment, where even one point of failure impacts the entire operation and causes serious disruptions. Cybersecurity knowledge is more common and networks are well-organized, though purpose-built solutions are necessary for optimal security.


EdgeIPS Pro was custom-designed for computer-operated facilities. It can provide protection to many devices at once, and is available in either 48 or 96 ports forming either 24 or 48 segments) and extendable with an easily swapped module card. This appliance is designed to be rack-mounted, allowing easy access for the IT team so they can avoid complicating the shop floor. EdgeIPS Pro’s failsafe paired ports provide hardware bypass for each device protected by EdgeIPS Pro, ensuring operational continuity.



All through 2020, malware development has only gone faster and faster. Today’s threat actors spend a great deal of time and energy looking for easy targets. Adaptive solutions are the keys to the future of cybersecurity. Only modern solutions such as these have the flexibility and resilience to prevent cyber incidents at today’s work sites.

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