In its latest research, cybersecurity solutions provider Trend Micro revealed how advanced hackers could leverage unusual and new attack vectors to disrupt smart manufacturing units. For the research, Trend Micro collaborated with Politecnico di Milano in its Industry 4.0 lab, which houses real-time equipment to demonstrate malicious threats in Industrial IoT(IIoT) environments for financial gain.
Politecnico di Milano is a scientific-technological university that trains engineers, architects, and industrial designers.
Just like with IT threats, the languages in the critical smart manufacturing equipment can be abused to input malicious code, traverse through the network, or steal confidential information without being detected. According to the research, the systems and machines that could be exploited by attackers include the manufacturing execution system (MES), human-machine interfaces (HMIs), and customizable IIoT devices.
The report offers a detailed set of defense and mitigation measures, which include:
- Deep packet inspection that supports OT protocols to identify anomalous payloads at the network level
- Integrity checks run regularly on endpoints to identify any altered software components
- Code-signing on IIoT devices to include dependencies such as third-party libraries
- Risk analysis to extend beyond physical safety to automation software
- Full chain of trust for data and software in smart manufacturing environments
- Detection tools to recognize vulnerable/malicious logic for complex manufacturing machines
- Sandboxing and privilege separation for software on industrial machines
Bill Malik, Vice President of infrastructure strategies for Trend Micro, said, “Past manufacturing cyberattacks have used traditional malware that can be stopped by regular network and endpoint protection. However, advanced attackers are likely to develop Operational Technology (OT) specific attacks designed to fly under the radar. As our research shows, there are multiple vectors now exposed to such threats, which could result in major financial and reputational damage for Industry 4.0 businesses. The answer is IIoT-specific security designed to root out sophisticated, targeted threats.”