Earlier this week, I hosted a #CiscoChat along with other team members of the @CiscoMFG team including Nancy Cam-Winget (@ncamwingw), an industrial security expert and Distinguished Engineer at Cisco, along with cohost Gregory Wilcox (@gswilcox_ohio) of our strategic alliance partner Rockwell Automation (@ROKAutomation). We had a thought-provoking interchange on how new digital business models impact industrial security interests, as well as some of the other inherent security risks for manufacturers.

If you missed the chat, the full recap is here, and below, I summarize a few of the highlights and insights for me.

Why is security for manufacturers such a top-of-mind concern, discussed across engineering, production, supply chain and boardroom alike?

By 2020, there will be an estimated 50+ billion intelligent things connected to the Internet. The emergence of more “smart” connected factories, in which machines and devices communicate (M2M) and for which there are more remote monitoring and services like proactive maintenance from third parties, means there are more security risks. So, the first question we posed on CiscoChat: What do expanded digital business models mean for security in manufacturing?—got our participants going, including the following responses:












Our next question triggered even more discussion: Why are manufacturing companies the most vulnerable to cyber threats? I tweeted that historically, IT and OT have had disparate approaches and incongruent risk profiles and tolerances. However, the emerging convergence of IT with OT has opened the attack surface dramatically, with greater access for exploitation. And Nancy articulated, “Manufacturing is still one of the most targeted sectors, by threat actor and hacktivists alike, mainly due to a lack of security in designs. Trends are forcing manufacturing protocols and deployment practices to include security especially in critical sites.”

I was pleased to get some different perspectives, including from participant David Longenecker:












The next question we posed: What types of damage are hackers causing within the manufacturing industry?













Additional conversation on how to protect industrial networks:












The next question: What are the top factory plant-wide security pain points or care-abouts?












And a related thread:












Finally, we ended the chat and asked the participants to describe what the future of digital manufacturing looks like:












Matthew Littlefield of LNS Research produced this great summary graphic:
















Digital Manufacturing makes smart connected operations a reality. And with thoughtful planning, iron-clad industrial security can be a key part of what will make it all work.

It was great to hear so many insights on this important topic, with lots of great interaction and contrasting points of view. I’d love to hear even more from you, so please leave me a comment below. Visit our Factory Security solution page to learn more about how Cisco is addressing these needs. And we look forward to having you join in the next #CiscoChat soon!


Chet Namboodri

Senior Director

Global Private Sector Industries Marketing