Without a doubt, cybersecurity for manufacturers is a top priority now more than ever. Control engineers are constantly looking for ways to prevent cyberattacks and put programs in place to help reduce security risks. OT (operational technology)-level risks are constantly changing, and keeping up with protecting a company’s operational technical infrastructure can seem time-consuming and expensive. However, there are ways to ensure the safety of a company’s products, assets, and processes in a concise and cost-effective manner.
At the most basic level, one of the ways to ensure security against outside hackers is to ensure that the right industrial Ethernet switches are being used. Some companies are satisfied with only essential network levels, choosing low-cost options. This will provide the needs to operate the factory floor operations, usually in the form of an industrial unmanaged switch. These switches are a great choice for networks where the panel is used for a fixed-configuration plug-and-play option. This approach eliminates any work on the IT end that requires encryption, prioritizing channels, or creating a separate set of devices to manage traffic and data. The downside of unmanaged switches is that they don’t provide any security functionality.
Companies with larger networks may want more than the basic functions of an unmanaged switch. With just a small increase in cost, the efficiency of a lean management switch can give plant-level control engineers the peace of mind they need when operating their systems. Lean managed switches can be configured to company specifications, monitor settings, disable unused ports, set up and manage encryption, and help protect network and data from active threats. VLANs can also be installed to reduce security risks and help increase network performance.
Wago’s line of industrial Ethernet lean-managed switches is designed to meet the requirements of security and redundancy, and is easy enough to be serviced by factory floor technicians. Wago focused on creating an intuitive interface for these switches, including a diagnostic dashboard that allows for quick system troubleshooting — even for users with no IT knowledge. . With each port configured for specific connections, transmission failures can be detected along with any improper connections or active threats. These switches are available with eight or 16 ports with two additional SFP slots for fiber connectivity for longer connections.