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Industry 4.0: Balancing Cybersecurity and Workplace Safety

Workplace safety has become an increasingly pressing problem for corporate boards and executive management teams over the past two decades.

Executive teams are under constant pressure to guarantee that safety standards keep pace with rapid technological innovation, and this demand has only intensified as the level of ethical and legal scrutiny over the management of employee(opens in new tab) safety has increased.

In the era of Industry 4.0 and more networked industrial workplaces, cybersecurity(opens in new tab) has become an equally critical worry for executive teams. Half of UK factories were hit by cybercrime in the previous year, with over 20% suffering losses of up to £25,000, according to to MAKE, an industry trade group representing manufacturers.

Cybersecurity threats to industrial equipment and processes have increased with the advent of data and robotic automation(opens in new tab). Mitigation measures need to be carefully coordinated with your company’s cybersecurity strategy since risk management necessitates a parallel shift in workplace safety techniques.

Workplace Safety and The New Industrial Workplace

As a direct outcome of the Industry 4.0 revolution, today’s industrial machines are better described as industrial robots because they are essentially just computers with machinery connected.

 A record 3 million industrial robots are reportedly in use in factories all around the world right now, and that number is expected to expand by 13% by 2022, all according to a report published by the International Federation of Robotics.

It’s becoming increasingly evident that, without industrial computer robots, businesses would struggle to compete successfully in the future.

As AI and autonomous machines take centre stage alongside human workers, the competitive gap between the two will widen. The likelihood of accidents and injuries in the workplace is expected to increase as human industrial employees become increasingly dependent on robots.

From a cyber security standpoint, this is crucial because attacks on industrial facilities are on the rise. Consequently, businesses must include industrial robots as potential entry points for cyberattacks in their cybersecurity plans. Like any other digital device, industrial robots should have security checks performed on them before they are put into production.

Organizations in the 4.0 industrial setting must provide not only a physically safe but also a cyber-safe working environment for their employees. Decision-makers in the industrial sector have a duty to ensure a secure environment for the use of industrial robotics, especially when dealing with autonomous systems.

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Ensuring a Safe Industrial Workplace with ZTNA

Implementing a culture of accountability for all things cybersecurity across organisational tiers is crucial for Industry 4.0 companies. Industry 4.0 firms must assure ownership and accountability for cybersecurity from the board down to the workers on the shop floor.


Typically, this begins with a Chief Information Security Officer in place to assess cybersecurity threats and ensure there are no vulnerabilities.

Cybersecurity in the workplaces of the Industry 4.0 era requires a systematic strategy. To successfully mitigate cybersecurity risks in the workplace, implementing a Zero Trust (ZTNA) paradigm to support Industry 4.0 robots is essential.

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When implementing Zero Trust security standards, it is essential to first determine which data, assets, applications, and services are most important and hence need the highest level of protection. In order to prioritise and safeguard the most important assets, businesses must first identify them.

Users, programmes, and systems are all included in a Zero Trust strategy. Strong authentication of user identification, application of “least privilege” norms, and verification of user device integrity are the cornerstones of any successful Zero Trust project.

The Zero Trust principle that apps cannot be trusted necessitates constant monitoring throughout runtime in order to authenticate their behaviour.

To eliminate the need for implicit trust between the various application components(opens in new tab) in Industry 4.0 systems, Zero Trust must be implemented across the board. There must be a Zero Trust policy in place for all infrastructure components, such as routers(opens in new tab), switches, the cloud, the Internet of Things (opens in new tab), and the supply chain.

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Industry 4.0 Cybersecurity and Microsegmentation

In the framework of Industry 4.0, it is crucial that all of the Internet of Things (IoT) and robot devices in the modern industrial workplace be tallied and monitored constantly to ensure the availability of reliable safeguards.

This paves the way for IT security teams to routinely and thoroughly analyse the actions of all devices in the company, allowing them to detect and prevent any suspicious or malicious conduct.

It is possible to effectively neutralise assaults on an industry 4.0 firm by reinforcing its security architecture and ensuring that all digital interactions are screened for vulnerabilities at every stage.

The danger of compromise in industrial systems can be reduced by combining ZTNA with micro-segmentation, which reduces the attack surface of the system. Benefits include improved network, data centre, and cloud-wide visibility as well as enhanced granular security and dynamic adaption.

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Cybersecurity will become increasingly seen as a vital component of an effective workplace safety approach as industrial robots grow throughout industry and workplaces, requiring effective co-living with human employees.

Senior management and companies in the Industry 4.0 sector need to start viewing cybersecurity as a workplace safety issue and implementing security and safety procedures to properly manage risk.

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