Where’s the breach in the moat? Billions of IP addressable smart devices that are critical to plant operations — and connected to the operations network — are suddenly the ultimate Trojan Horses, especially when you consider where these devices could come from.
If you’ve followed some of Bloomberg’s recent reporting, you know that some nation states are embedding tiny chips within U.S. connected devices with the sole intent of infiltrating and disrupting. This has been named the most significant supply chain attack known to be carried out on American companies. Suddenly, every automation product purchased from surplus providers suddenly opens the plant to significant risk in loss of intellectual property and unintended downtime.
There are some obvious ways to mitigate this risk. At Rockwell Automation, for example, we’re being proactive in addressing this threat through strict supply chain management and focus on product authenticity. By selling our products direct or through an Allen-Bradley® authorized distributor network, we help ensure customers receive new, genuine products with factory warranty that are not counterfeit, stolen or compromised. See a recent ruling we brought before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).
This, of course, doesn’t stop enterprising procurement managers from buying this technology from nonauthorized resellers with the hopes of reducing acquisition costs. This will still introduce the risk of increasing long-term support costs, intellectual property infringement, noncompliance with validation standards, and, worse, opening plants to untold security threats, so there are no savings.
Procurement leaders around the globe can rest easy knowing there are other ways to reduce acquisition costs without installing significant risk in the plant floor by buying surplus automation products. Manufacturers can save significant money in remanufacturing and improve overall equipment efficiency (OEE) by cutting downtime and reduction in frequency of failure.
Recent cyberattacks like NotPetya have taught us that it only takes one compromised device to open the entire enterprise to unfathomable risk in lost production and intellectual property. Take action by making sure the people in your organization understand these risks and don’t just repair on the open market or buy surplus products in its place. Your company’s production and reputation are worth it.
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