The Role of Privileged Access Management in Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 puts capabilities like interoperability, data transparency, and autonomous cyber systems into the service of industrial operations. The trend relates to cyber-physical systems, cloud computing and, the most pervasive of them all – the Internet of Things. Its openness, self-directed and interconnected nature creates new security challenges. Privileged Access Management (PAM) solutions can play a key role in reducing the risk.

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is nothing less than a new industrial revolution. The first industrial revolution of the 1700s brought mechanization plus steam and water power. In the early 20th century, mass production, electricity, and assembly lines represented the second revolution. In the third industrial revolution, which is still going on, industry added computers and automation. Now and in the future, we have cyber-physical systems, constituting Industry 4.0, or the “smart factory”.

What’s a cyber-physical system, you may ask? It’s essentially computerized devices (machinery, sensors, appliances, etc.) that can monitor physical processes and create virtual copies of not just data, but the physical world around them and beyond. These systems communicate over the IoT. Decisions don’t have to be made in a centralized location. In fact, they can be made far from operational areas.

Industry 4.0 and Privileged Account Security Issues

Connected systems can predict their own failure. They can automatically perform maintenance and react to production changes. People may or may not be involved in every decision. This is at once great, but also frightening news. If a critical industrial system is self-governing, what happens if someone takes advantage of unauthorized administrative access to it? (A privileged user is a person who can modify the backend settings of a system, creating accounts or deleting data, for instance.) That’s a serious risk exposure, including risks to physical safety. For example, large robots can kill and maim.

Overall, Industry 4.0 exposes organizations to risk by opening up industrial systems to the outside world. Industrial systems were traditionally closed, independent entities. Any security breach, or any IT disruption for that matter, can bring the production process to a halt. The personnel managing these systems may not be familiar enough with the risks of interconnectedness to ensure a strong defense.

PAM Minimizes Industry 4.0 Vulnerabilities

The WALLIX PAM solution offers an impressive set of capabilities that address privileged access risks in Industry 4.0 environments. Operating on-premises or in the cloud, it automates the process of protecting networks from hackers and other external threats. It also controls third party access so actions on the vendor’s side do not exploit vulnerabilities.

Since access control is a priority, clients can rely on WALLIX to provide a single point of policy definition and enforcement, regardless of how many connected devices and endpoints there are. WALLIX includes a Password Manager and Session Manager. These provide a constant defense against access control risks associated with cloud services, external application usage, and third party users who may be located anywhere.

The Bastion’s Role in Industry 4.0 Protection

The WALLIX PAM solution benefits industrial organizations with simplified installation, use, and control. It can adapt to persistent changes thanks to an agentless architecture. This eliminates the difficulties of installing dedicated software agents on individual systems. Given the fluid and interdependent nature of Industry 4.0 environments, this is a crucial advantage for security.

The WALLIX Bastion is also centralized, mitigating the security challenges from the decentralization of Industry 4.0 environments. The solution can be quickly deployed. Its single gateway enables system admins to only log in once to access all its core features. An industrial IT department can define, enforce, and manage access control policies globally and view comprehensive reports of all network activity.

Once policies are set, the solution’s Access Manager knows the access privileges of every user across the extended Industry 4.0 landscape. Its password vault adds additional reinforcement for internal controls by preventing administrators from changing data management or protection settings locally. With potentially unknown people having physical access to devices on factory floors, this feature is significant.

Privileged users must also clear Access Manager before gaining access to the system. Activity tracking and auditing are provided by the Bastion’s Session Manager. All privileged users and devices communicating internally and externally with the network can be tracked in real time. Sensitive actions can be alarmed, monitored, or forbidden to protect critical infrastructures.

Industry 4.0 represents a true revolution in technology and automation. But, like many advances in industry, it creates new risks. The distributed, multi-entity, multi-device configuration of Industry 4.0 potentially increases vulnerability to unauthorized users and access. WALLIX’s PAM solution addresses these and more, allowing cybersecurity personnel to defend systems against internal vulnerabilities and those originating from a perimeter server or device.