Cyber4AM highlights the need to fortify digital defences for Ireland’s manufacturing industry to maintain its global edge

  • Digital defences are one part of the jigsaw as to why Ireland consistently ranks as a leading exporter of high-end and sophisticated products
  • Potential for a more integrated All-Island cyber security market to bolster defences and further increase Ireland’s attractiveness as a glocal manufacturing base
  • Cyber threats recognise no borders; collaboration and partnerships are key to building digital defences and resilience for manufacturing industries throughout Ireland

Mullingar, November 21, 2023: For Ireland to maintain its cutting edge advantages as a world class location for the manufacturing industry and leading exporter of a range of high end and sophisticated products it needs to double down on all aspects of security, especially in operational technology security according to the Cyber4AM project at the ISA Ireland OT Cybersecurity conference. 

Manufacturing is the backbone of the Irish and northern Irish economies, with both regions having clusters of world class manufacturing operations in sectors such as biopharmaceuticals, electronics, medical device technology, and food production. The total value of products manufactured in Ireland in 2022 was €132 billion and manufacturing is consistently one the strongest growth sectors in Northern Ireland’s dynamic economy.

Central to preserving and advancing this competitive edge is building on the foundations of a robust cybersecurity ecosystem for Ireland’s manufacturing industry, particularly in light of findings that in 2022 the manufacturing sector had one of the highest share of cyber-attacks among the leading industries worldwide.

As factories continue to digitise, moving towards automation, this brings increasing security risks for the Information Technology (IT) environment, which manages data and information, and the operational technology (OT) environment, which manages physical systems such as machinery or critical infrastructure.

A dedicated one-day conference provided attendees with a comprehensive overview of cyber security trends and challenges for the manufacturing sector in operational technology (OT) cybersecurity.

At the conference, Cyber Ireland and NI Cyber held a workshop on Cybersecurity for Advanced Manufacturing & Industry 4.0, to discuss the research findings of the Cyber4AM project. It is funded by InterTrade Ireland’s Synergy programme which aims to scale cross-border collaboration in the manufacturing sector to accelerate innovation, cluster development and knowledge sharing.

It found that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the manufacturing sector have established roles responsible for cyber security and have conducted cyber risk assessments, with a significant percentage having business continuity plans. 

However, there are areas for improvement with the need for increased cyber security awareness and training, adoption of certifications and standards, and for a comprehensive cyber security strategy for the business. It was also found a need for training in OT cyber security.

Speaking at the one-day conference, Eoin Byrne, Cluster Manager at Cyber Ireland, said “The Cyber4AM project has highlighted the increasing importance of cyber security to the manufacturing sector in Ireland, in particular for SMEs. This is also an opportunity for cyber security solution providers in Ireland and Northern Ireland with the potential for a more integrated All-Island cyber security market.”

Gillian Colan-O’Leary, Programme Manager with NI Cyber, said “Cyber4AM is at the forefront of fostering cross-border and cross-cluster collaboration by connecting cyber security companies with advanced manufacturing firms in Ireland and Northern Ireland. 

“Our mission is to fortify the digital defence of the manufacturing industry, promoting innovation and resilience through strategic partnerships,” added Colan-O’Leary

Alison Currie, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at InterTradeIreland commented, InterTradeIreland’s Synergy programme supports knowledge sharing and collaboration between the Irish and Northern Irish manufacturing sectors to accelerate innovation. 

“This research will benefit advanced manufacturing companies across the island of Ireland to improve their cyber security preparedness, support their digitalisation process and reduce the risk of cyber attacks. It will also create new business opportunities for cyber security companies in Ireland and Northern Ireland,” Currie said. 

Expert speakers at the ISA Ireland Section OT Cybersecurity Conference 2023 included Ita O’Farrell, Head of NCSE Compliance, National Cyber Security Centre, Philip Westbroek, OT Security Officer of Enexis  the Netharland’s regional grid operator, Carlos Buenano, Chief Technical Officer for OT, Armis, a leading asset intelligence platform, Jacky Fox, Europe Security Lead, Accenture, Katie McCarthy, Head of Security, Uisce Éireann and Donal Óg Cusack, Senior Engineering Manager, DePuy Synthes who engaged in some of the biggest topics and issues of the day including the impact of EU regulations, OT Cyber security standards, and securing critical infrastructure.

View the Irish & Northern Irish Cyber security solution providers for the Manufacturing Sector that participated in the project: Here 

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