Cybersecurity: Why You Need More Than Just a Firewall

One of the biggest problems facing manufacturing today is the practice of indiscriminate internetworking. To take advantage of IT/OT integration and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), some manufacturers continue to connect networks together with limited regard to security and the false assumption that minimal security is enough to ward off a cyber attack.

While companies around the world have depended on traditional security methods for over 30 years, modern hackers have learned how to get through them, which is why so many companies are working to update their systems with complex passwords, encryption and the latest anti-virus software. But, as technology continues to get more sophisticated, so too do the attackers that also develop their own equally sophisticated counter technology.

To combat today’s attacker and keep your systems safe, the Industrial Internet Consortium continues its development of new security frameworks that recognize increased Internetworking as an essential component of the automation revolution. Managing the movement of messages and data between networks is becoming vital.  While risks can come from the inside, outside vendors such as robotics integrators who put a cellular input/output device on their equipment can also become a back door into your company network.

Take a Layered Approach

Modern cybersecurity best practices involve adoption of a layered approach. That is a network housed inside a network which itself is housed in another network, and typically data does not flow between the layers. The aim is to stop intruders in one layer and from moving to the next.

Create a Standard Data Protocol with MTConnect

The requirement to standardize and securely transport data involves MTConnect. Designed for the exchange of data on the manufacturing shop floor, MTConnect provides an industry-oriented data dictionary and vocabulary that standardizes transfer of data across all devices, enabling the data to be read and understood by a single piece of software.

Develop A Flexible, Secure Platform with SmartBox

Mazak’s solution to the issues involved with connectivity, communication and cybersecurity is the Mazak SmartBox, a launch platform for secure participation in the IIoT. Engineered in collaboration with security and networking experts Cisco Systems, Inc., SmartBox’s basic capability is to isolate the machine while still enabling data flow to clients off the shop floor. When combined with optional Cisco software, the device protects other levels of security from the machine, but also helps protect the machine from intrusions from outside sources, including other machines.

Utilize Edge Computing

Preemptive diagnostics applications utilize high-frequency sampling of data. Such applications create heavy data flow that can interfere with the operation of the larger network. In that case, Mazak and Cisco have defined a use case to isolate and analyze high frequency data at the machine, effectively moving the edge of the network to the machine. This is described as edge computing, or in Cisco’s terms Fog computing, cleverly contrasting the cloud on a high level with the fog down at the level of the machine.

Activate Secure File Transfer

An essential cybersecurity-related microservice is secure file transfer or SFT. If your contractor wants to send confidential information such as a machining program to the shop floor, your engineer can activate SFT to transfer the encrypted piece of intellectual property from the design office over the network encrypted, securely, and automatically directly to the machine. This helps eliminate the dangers associated with walking to the shop floor with a USB memory drive or emailing a piece of data that can be hacked or stolen from the servers.

The most important goal in staying ahead of changes in IIoT, is to design your systems with sufficient flexibility to be “future proof.” Adaptability is essential because the nature of new technology is unknown. The use cases of today may be very different than those of tomorrow.

To handle new use cases, it is critical to incorporate systems that employ new ways of thinking about networking and cybersecurity, and not merely rearrange and repurpose present solutions. Instead of simply “thinking outside the box,” seek an altogether new box that will enable you to maximize productivity and competitiveness in the IIoT-driven future world of manufacturing.

About Mazak Corporation

Mazak Corporation is a leader in the design and manufacture of productive machine tool solutions. Committed to being a partner to customers with innovative technology, its world-class facility in Florence, Kentucky, produces over 100 models of turning centers, Multi-Tasking machines and vertical machining centers, including 5- axis models. Continuously investing in manufacturing technology allows the Kentucky Mazak iSMART Factory™ to be the most advanced and efficient in the industry, providing high-quality and reliable products through its “Production-On-Demand” practice. Mazak maintains eight Technology Centers across North America to provide local hands-on applications, service and sales support to customers. For more information on Mazak's products and solutions, visit or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.