Enhanced Risk Assessment for connected manufacturing systems

Enhanced Risk Assessment

Holistic approach to industrial safety and security

Holistic approach to industrial safety and security

Enhanced Risk Assessment and Industrial Safety

In manufacturing, the growing connectivity between machines or across facilities and systems is a key factor in driving the transformation from Industry 3.0 to the data-led Industry 4.0. The benefits of this increasing connection are abundant; not only does it allow for the fast and extensive flow of information and therefore a higher level of transparency, but it also enables a quicker reaction to events, resulting in higher efficiencies.   

However, this increasing connectivity also presents new risks in the way it exposes system vulnerabilities, especially in regard to cybersecurity attacks. In this environment, a holistic and integrated approach to industrial safety and security is key to the effective mitigation of risk.

Why is Enhanced Risk Assessment Important?

Security measures in production environments are often over simplified and might not take into account the full risk posed by cyberattacks. Measures are often limited to basic cybersecurity controls for functional safety components, or simple additions to pre-existing protocols that fail to identify and manage the negative consequences of a cyberattack.

To fully understand this new risk landscape, it is important to identify the attacker's intentions, as these can vary greatly; from demands of ransom to espionage or even sabotage. It is also essential to be aware of the potential consequences of cybersecurity attacks. These include:

  • Industrial safety: Depending on the type of machine or the facility setup, a cyberattack can also affect its surroundings. The severity of the attack impacts the extent of its effects. For example, the manipulation of a gas warning system compromises its ability to be triggered, and consequently, it cannot prevent an explosion. In these kinds of attacks, machinery safety is often compromised.
  • Productivity losses: downtimes and pauses to production may be caused by a cyberattack. When this occurs, the malign activity is quickly detected, and the threat can be dealt with.  
  • Theft of intellectual property: depending on the industry, this can include geometric data, the recipe of a pharmaceutical drug, or even the composition of a chemical compound. In this case, the cyberattack might continue unnoticed over a longer period, causing more harm over time. 
  • Product safety: a cyberattack could tamper with production in a way that negatively affects product quality. This could result in unhappy customers or, in a worst-case scenario, harm to the end-user. Examples could be manipulating temperature displays on fridges, the altering of product descriptions (e.g. milk with and without lactose), or changing the parameters for mechanical load-bearing capacity. 

With this in mind, it’s important to be wary that a cyberattack can endanger not only an organisation's overall processes, but its competitive edge, putting employees, customers and industrial goods at risk. 

Why are Existing Risk Assessment Protocols Insufficient?

In each of the cases listed above, the incidents are typically caused by proactive manipulation through a cyberattack. However, most standards outlining requirements for plant safety, including the EU Machinery Directive 2006/42/EG, do not include an assessment of such manipulations, nor do they detail the potential consequences. The scope of these standards is limited to the risks resulting from intended use as well as reasonably foreseeable misuse. As such, a classic approach to safety risk assessment might not be extensive enough to detect dangerous situations resulting from malicious cyber activity. This means that the resulting safety and security measures could prove to be incomplete and insufficient.  

A Holistic and customizable Approach to Industrial Safety and Cybersecurity 

Many drafts for new and updated safety standards (including those focused on cybersecurity and product safety) include recommendations or stringent requirements for a holistic approach to industrial safety. Consequently, safety assessments will need to adapt to meet the new demands.

Operators and integrators, and manufacturers or suppliers of machinery and components, are advised to stay on top of these developments and act proactively to ensure industrial safety compliance. As the number of industrial cyberattacks increases, customers and other stakeholders may already expect measures to be implemented to secure vital systems. 

As standards for a holistic approach to industrial risk assessment are still under development, organisations need to identify a suitable approach for balancing the complexity of the new risk landscape with financial limitations and requirements. Resources should be invested effectively to ensure that critical risks are mitigated, and industrial security is safeguarded. Our service for Enhanced Risk Assessment was designed to solve this challenge for companies across the manufacturing industry.  

TÜV SÜD's Enhanced Risk Assessment Service

The TÜV SÜD Enhanced Risk Assessment (ERA) service combines the classic safety assessment processes with proven cybersecurity risk assessment methodology in accordance with IEC 62443. This combination allows us to focus on the individual safety goals of a specific customer. For example:

  • Workplace and machinery safety
  • Product safety
  • IP-protection concerns
  • Productivity and overall performance

To fully understand the risk landscape and prevent serious consequences, the Enhanced Risk Assessment approach combines cybersecurity vulnerability analysis with the identification of safety hazards. By merging the methodologies of vulnerability analysis and machinery safety risk assessment, ERA will systematically expose unknown, unwanted and unsafe situations that a potential cyberattack could cause. By assessing all relevant factors, we are able to align the industrial risk assessment and cybersecurity risk management processes to help identify effective measures. The resulting risk figures for cyber-physical systems demonstrate the impact of the selected measures (safety, security), therefore providing a clear overview of the impact of risk mitigation.

Enhanced risk assessment flow chart

As the scope of the assessment is derived from the specific safety goals of your organisation, you will be heavily involved in the ERA's holistic safety assessment. Contact us today to learn more and improve your safety and security measures.

Your benefits at a glance

  • Effective risk management - the holistic approach to safety and security enables you to identify and mitigate all relevant risks
  • Efficient use of resources - the scope of the assessment is customised to meet the needs of your operations
  • Competitive edge - meet the safety goals of the organisations and create trust with employees, customers and stakeholders


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