We've recently been talking quite a bit about the end of life for Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 on the 14th January 2020 and the risks of doing nothing.
The security risk of running unsupported operating systems and not being able to patch against new threats and vulnerabilities is significant.
- Global figures indicate the typical financial impact of a single cyber attack is now hitting $3.8 million (£2.9 million)
- And is set to cost businesses and organisations $6 trillion (£4.7 trillion) annually across the world by 2021
- Cyber insurance could provide some protection but potentially will only cover a small percentage of any total losses, as hearing aid manufacturer Demant recently found out
Given nearly half of UK manufacturers report being victims of a cyber attack - with the sector being the third most targeted - we are certainly operating in a climate that can no longer afford to do nothing when it comes to staying up-to-date and current with the systems we use.
Risk or opportunity?
Operating systems aren't the only things that are evolving and staying still when it comes to your industrial technology is no longer an option either. If you're running on an out of date operating systems, then the chances are you're also running on aging hardware, with older versions of many applications.However, one of your the biggest risks could also turn out to be your biggest opportunity.
Now could be the perfect time to review your current architecture and software solutions and reap the rewards of enhanced security, efficiency and productivity on offer today.
The financial cost of the missed opportunity for improvements in efficiency and productivity should not be underestimated and could easily eclipse the financial losses a cyber attack could also attract.
Data, data and more data
One of the biggest areas for improvement comes from something you already have abundance of within your business but may not be doing anything with - Data!
According to a research study conducted by IFS, access to production data is still primarily limited to the plant floor, with access to data being limited to those using the process automation system or supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system.
The use of web based HMIs are a cost-effective tool for getting operational intelligence into the hands of both corporate executives and plant management. Available with no additional IT, staffing or infrastructure requirements, it’s becoming seen as an economical way to extract valuable insights and distribute them across your organisation.
Benefits of quick and easy access to your key KPIs and process data
In order to make full, strategic use of production data, it must reach beyond the plant floor.
Manufacturers need to ensure that these valuable insights are not consumed solely by individuals closest to the machine in question on the plant floor, but by senior management and line managers who can act on or analyse this data to support decision making.
In order to do this, a plant must have a Historian of some sort, data analytics software and preferably a web based portal to view the data on… this sounds like it would make for a lot of implementation work, but many people have the necessary infrastructure in place already and simply need to upgrade their current systems.
Right device, Right time
The development of software functionality, across most aspects of a plant floor, means that you now have the ability to use your production data to provide the right people with actionable insights - on the right device, at the right time.
With an increasingly mobile workforce, demanding access to real-time information ‘on the go’, the need to enable people to view data and KPIs on mobile devices is increasing… this is where web based client come in to play and something that's actually so easy to achieve.
The opportunities to evolve your operations are endless.. and with easy upgrade paths to the latest versions there really shouldn't be anything to hold you back.