The seemingly unstoppable COVID-19 pandemic has upended workplace operations, transformed consumer shopping habits, and crippled global supply chains. Compounding matters is a steep rise in the frequency, severity, and cost of cyberattacks. Consider, for instance, that among the 61% of manufacturers reporting a cyberattack in 2021 in one study, 75% sustained system outages. A side effect of pandemic challenges has been the fast-tracking of digital transformation efforts to meet new challenges like remote work, and the parallel requirement for industrial cybersecurity to help protect newly connected operations and networks.
As one multinational food and beverage manufacturer discovered, digital transformation and cybersecurity can no longer be viewed as two separate initiatives but must be implemented holistically.
The company planned to launch a security-centric digitization initiative to take advantage of real-time data generated by its increasingly digital business systems. But it would first need to address the technical deficiencies that had accumulated over the years. The food manufacturer’s legacy systems and applications, for example, were incompatible with modern cloud computing and cybersecurity platforms. Its disparate networks and virtual infrastructure couldn’t accommodate critical data analytics and artificial intelligence technologies. And inadequate cybersecurity awareness and training programs for employees contributed to a culture of poor security hygiene.
The CPG manufacturer asked Rockwell Automation to help modernize and unify its IT and OT systems, implement automated monitoring and management of the new network, and update cybersecurity capabilities across 44 sites in North America. It did not want to tap into capital expenditure (CapEx) funding to do so, however.
Rockwell Automation created and deployed a modern cloud-based solution using our Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering. Our team collaborated with the company to design the IaaS network and implement cybersecurity capabilities to include network segmentation, patch management for operating systems, and antivirus solutions. A Rockwell Automation ecosystem partner managed the delivery of hardware for the initiative. All network and compute infrastructure were then migrated to a managed service in OT.
The company also deployed Rockwell Automation’s TechConnect℠ Support and Application Support services to gain access to 24/7 help desk support for applications and infrastructure, and to dispatch on-site field labor for ‘hands-on keyboard’ support.
While service level agreements (SLAs) mandated a response to IaaS alerts in 10 minutes or less, actual response times averaged just 3.5 minutes.
This secure digital transformation solution closed large cyber-risk gaps by implementing a modern network infrastructure using Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering, and effective OT patch management – a notoriously complex security requirement to solve – and antivirus safeguards.
Using the Rockwell Automation’s Application Support service, the company improved response time for critical alarms and alerts by 90%, which in turn diminished downtime.
Funding for the initiative came from the company’s operating expenditures, which enabled it to fund digital transformation without tapping into CapEx reserves.
The globally supported, services-ready support model helped address staffing shortages for skilled IT and cybersecurity workers in their newly digital operations and prepared the company for future growth.