Cyber-physical systems are able to combine computation, networking, and physical processes while giving us the best of both worlds in regards to both physical and digital domains.
These systems possess a variety of capabilities covering everything from control systems in utilities to nuclear power plants. Cyber-physical systems operate alongside the physical environment utilizing a communication channel that collects inputs and feedback.
Despite their numerous advantages, however, these systems come with their own set of challenges which include aspects such as:
- Their spread-out nature of control and management renders it difficult to successfully secure the system online. This also creates physical security problems as Cyber-physical systems usually have components in multiple locations.
- The pace and fluidity regarding the system’s status can create uncertainties.
- They may be created with real-time control loops which have very specific performance requirements.
How to Secure Supply Chains
Supply chains represent the biggest challenges facing cyber-physical systems. The COVID-19 pandemic proved how crucial it is for businesses to have efficient supply chain processes despite external conditions.
Cybersecurity expert Ajay Singh wrote in his book titled “Cyber Strong” about how difficult it is to secure supply chains. He used the example of a supply chain attack on aerospace giant Airbus by hackers as his focal point.
The incident sent shockwaves across the industry, and Singh went on to state that there are certain precautions that companies can take to protect their supply chains from suffering a similar fate. These included:
Understanding that Cybersecurity defenses are not impenetrable: Businesses must keep in mind that breaches are not just possible but inevitable when implementing their cybersecurity system. Thus, they should plan for limiting the damages caused by attacks, alongside how to prevent them.
Learn how hackers operate: To fully understand what hackers will target, companies should step into their shoes and evaluate what information they possess which would most appeal to them. Only then can they work to ensure that these systems are prioritized when determining cybersecurity levels.
Define minimum security requirements: When companies determine minimum security requirements as a part of their contracts with suppliers in the supply chain, only then can they establish full control. This will also help provide support if they fall victim to an attack and then take steps to mitigate the damage.
Monitor compliance between suppliers: Despite being a tiresome process, a company needs to monitor cybersecurity compliance among all its vendors.
It will cost a lot to secure supply chains, but it will be worth it: The severity of cyberattacks witnessed worldwide means that cybersecurity cannot be taken lightly. It must be viewed as a necessity and, though costly, will not be a waste of resources.
German industrial giant Siemens has developed a Charter of Trust to help facilitate a cooperative approach to cybersecurity among their suppliers. Initiatives like this will help emphasize the importance of cybersecurity for businesses to prevent breaches similar to the one at Airbus from occurring.