Managing Network Security on Your Plant Floor

There is no doubt that network security for manufacturers is a top priority now more than ever. Controls engineers are constantly looking for ways to stave off cyber-attacks and put programs in place to help reduce security risks. The risks at the OT (operations technology) level are continually changing and keeping up with protecting a company’s operational technical infrastructure may seem time consuming and costly. However, there are ways to ensure the safety of a company’s products, property, and processes in a concise and cost-effective way. On the most basic level, one of the ways to ensure security against outside hackers is making sure that the proper industrial Ethernet switches are being used. Some companies are happy with just the essential levels of networking, opting for low-cost options. This will provide the bare necessities to run plant floor operations, usually in the form of an industrial unmanaged switch. These switches are an excellent option for networks with a control panel used for a plug-and-play option that has a fixed configuration. This approach eliminates any work on the IT end requiring encryptions, prioritizing channels or creating a set of segregated devices to manage traffic and data. The downside of unmanaged switches is that they do not provide any security functions. 

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