Vienna — Wittmann Battenfeld says its latest generation of injection molding machines offer secure access to entire production cells when equipped with its Unilog B8 control system and the Wittmann 4.0 router.
As more businesses have employees work remotely in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the company says protective measures also are needed for the technology allowing manufacturing sites to operate with a minimal workforce at the factory.
However, many machine control systems were not developed for prolonged pandemic utilization and are susceptible to malware infestation and misuse through cyberattacks, the company said.
To improve cybersecurity, Wittmann Battenfeld says it optimized the firewall and other safety features in the newest injection molding machines with the B8 control and router 4.0 option. The option extends the B8 control system with the router, which provides a separate production cell control system that performs communication tasks in addition to protective functions.
The Wittmann 4.0 router essentially shields the machine's controls from the outside world, which company officials say is important considering that, unlike office personal computers, the systems can't normally be upgraded automatically to the latest operating software and most recent security patches.
An update would first have to go through a time-consuming verification process carried out by the manufacturer. In the meantime, malware could exploit security gaps in the operating systems of machine control systems that are known but not yet closed.
One possible scenario is the misuse of machine control systems for denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, which can cause system failures and bring production to a standstill.
Wittmann says its restrictive firewall has been optimized to close ports not dedicated to essential external communication between the injection molding machine and the auxliary appliances connected with it.
The permitted communication processes also are subject to continuous plausibility testing, or intrusion detection. If the communication volume exceeds the typical volume of data to be expected, this could point to a DoS attack, which is then stopped by immediate counteraction.
The Wittmann 4.0 router also is equipped with a secure boot process that allows automatic updating of the operating system as long as the respective update has a certificate from Wittmann. This prevents the installation of fake updates in the hardware, which could be capable of circumventing all kinds of security installations.
Another security aspect keeps all communication between an external data client and the actual appliance or the injection molding machine within the production cell via an aggregation server in the Wittmann 4.0 router. This means all requests from external clients are dealt with directly inside the router without being passed on to the physical appliances.
Based in Vienna, Wittmann Group produces injection molding machines, robots and peripheral equipment for the plastics processing industry. The company has eight manufacturing plants in five countries and 34 sales and service facilities around the world.