Asset Management Risks: Address These 3 EAM Security Concerns

by:
on January 23, 2019

The internet of things (IoT) continues to deliver huge efficiency boosts for maintenance management, and adoption continues to rise:

Gartner estimates that 25.1 billion internet-connected devices will be online within two years.

(Full article available to Gartner clients.)

Many asset-heavy companies use an enterprise asset management (EAM) system, connected with IoT technology, to track the location and condition of machines and equipment. But these networked devices are targets for competitors and malicious hackers looking to steal sensitive data, intellectual property or simply cause chaos in your business.

While the cost-saving and data-leveraging benefits of launching an IoT project are compelling, it’s not without risk. By addressing three security concerns early on, maintenance organizations can connect assets and achieve a strong proactive and predictive strategy.

1. Low IT Resources? A Cloud EAM Is (Likely) Your Best Option

Gartner says smaller companies—with standard EAM requirements and low complexity—tend to have a better experience with cloud-based systems.

When looking at a sample of those who called Software Advice in the past year seeking maintenance systems (which may include CMMS and EAM), the vast majority of buyers prefer a cloud-based product.

Maintenance System Deployment Preferences

Some smaller vendors recently begun offering more affordable, cloud-based EAMs, while the larger providers are attempting to reintroduce cloud versions. This all results in a growing, varied EAM market with several options for smaller maintenance teams—and for most maintenance teams, the flexibility and efficiency of a cloud EAM is a significant advantage

RECOMMENDED ACTIONS:

  1. If your customization needs and IT resources are low, a cloud EAM may be the best option. Run a pilot test on a small group of non-crucial assets to spot early issues you may experience.
  2. Ask EAM providers about the success of clients with a similar situation to your own, pricing models, their long-term cloud roadmap and what level of support they can offer.

2. Secure and Segregate Your IoT Devices

As maintenance teams place sensors on assets, they create several endpoints that could allow intrusions that spread to the rest of the equipment.

Nearly 40 percent of Gartner’s IoT survey respondents said network visibility of these sensors created security issues, and half say misplaced devices caused problems as well.

Gartner

(Source—full content available to clients)

We recently shared some best practices for securing networked devices in an asset-heavy manufacturing setting. The volume of sensors and machines makes for a large attack surface for potential hacks, but a few carefully performed steps with your IT team or consultants drastically reduce your risk.

Gartner offers three actions for enterprises that, for smaller organizations, can be performed easily:

Create device inventory: Often the team implementing the sensors are not the same IT professionals who must secure them. It’s crucial that you understand the exact number and purpose of each device in your plant.

Segregate devices: It’s important to maintain clear separations between the network for your IoT devices and your main network where sensitive information and systems operate. In case of an intrusion, these boundaries keep your company safe.

Analyze traffic: Network traffic analysis or anomaly detection technology creates alerts when device network traffic deviates from the normal flow, and identifies traffic from hosts known to be malicious.

RECOMMENDED ACTIONS:

  1. Some vendors who have experience with network access control have solutions to help with cataloging devices. Ask about their device identification capabilities when evaluating providers.
  2. After installing devices, you can use Shodan, a search engine for IoT devices that are accessible online, to quickly find out if your devices are visible.

3. Prepare a Quick Response for Intrusions

Simply preventing cybersecurity attacks is no longer an effective strategy: Hackers will get in, so you need a plan to spot them and remove them quickly. Gartner calls this a Detect and Response approach, and it’s twice as effective at preventing costly intrusions.

About 60 percent of manufacturing companies using some kind of digital system will face expensive downtime due to intrusions by 2020. Why? The volume of IoT devices used in a manufacturing setting creates a large attack surface where malicious actors can better blend in. (Full research available to Gartner clients.)

A recent incident involving the world’s largest semiconductor producer, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), shows the impact of a preventable attack that spreads through the network.

WannaCry Malware Screenshot

Screen capture of the WannaCry malware (Source)

TSMC suffered three days of downtime and lost nearly $200 million in revenue, all because a piece of software carrying the malware wasn’t properly checked before connecting to the main network. This kind of problem can be avoided by following a couple key actions.

RECOMMENDED ACTIONS:

  1. Create a hierarchy of your most important assets and give them a higher priority when attacks are detected in the network traffic. Focusing on these machines makes it easier to spot if malware tried to gather data from a critical asset.
  2. Eliminate the bad practices and human errors that leave you exposed. Conduct training for those using networked assets on how to respond to intrusion alerts, and carefully inspect any new software or hardware and test before installing on the main network.

Next Steps to Keep Your Assets Protected

It’s a great time to adopt an EAM and gain a more holistic view of your maintenance operations. Networking your assets moves you toward a more proactive, more efficient and cheaper way to keep everything running as long as possible; with a careful implementation and sound plan to respond to intrusions, your company can leverage the power of IoT and significantly save money—safely.

Here are a few resources to help you move forward:

If you’re ready to start your search, our EAM software advisors at (855) 998-8505 are available to help you find the right system based on your specific needs during a free phone call.

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