Bridging the Gap Between IT and Operations to Improve Manufacturing Cybersecurity

A common question in today’s manufacturing concerns manufacturing cybersecurity — specifically, how do you bridge the gap between IT and operations in manufacturing? By exploring this issue, you could save your team from a lot of complications down the line.

The Problem With IT and Operations Gaps for Cybersecurity

Why is the gap between manufacturing IT cybersecurity and operations a problem? On a day-to-day basis, it may not be. However, any gap in communication can make a company, even a manufacturing company, more exposed to cyber hacking.

This can manifest itself in any number of ways. The operations team may be experiencing a problem that they read as a simple bug but is, in reality, a cyber-attack, something the IT security team would pick up on. Or the IT security team could discover a breach but fail to present the information to operations in a way that will lead to them prioritizing it properly.

In an age where breaches and malware regularly attack business systems and result in mechanical failures, massive data loss and even company ruin, having an effective cybersecurity system in place is crucial. You simply cannot risk a gap between IT and operations.

How to Bridge the Gap: Creating Clear Roles and Responsibilities

In a perfect world, the system would be simple. IT security professionals would determine what cybersecurity strategies are necessary. They would design and document the proper security responses for the operations team, and the operations team would implement them. However, too often, these teams — and even individuals within these teams — work in a vacuum, not sharing data or delegating responsibilities according to the company’s defined plan. This slows everything down and dramatically increase the possibility of error.

The first step is to get both departments together and make sure they understand they are working on the same team. Make sure everyone is clear on what each group’s goals are and how they can and should work together to achieve them. If they don’t seem to be getting it, keep working with them until they do. Don’t move forward until you are sure everyone is on board.

The next step is to set up an incident response automation system that naturally melds the IT and operations environments. Automated incident response systems help prevent individuals or subgroups from going outside the established protocols for cybersecurity. They also take many of the tasks that could slow your operation down or result in errors out of the hands of your employees.

Implementing the right system to meld IT and operations, and making sure everyone on both teams is aware of their responsibilities to the company and to each other can be a little time-consuming, but it is well worth it when compared to the damage a breach in security can cause.

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