Protecting the Region’s Industry Assets - Cybersecurity
Big data, the Cloud, AI, AR, VR, IoT – these terms and acronyms are now part of the vocabulary when talking about advances in technology that increasingly influence the industry sectors driving economic growth throughout the Greater Baltimore region. Technology is a significant catalyst for improving efficiency and effectiveness and, in many sectors, adopting more cost-effective operations that translate to a healthier bottom line.
Adopting these tools and other advances in technology also introduces the need to protect the resulting processes – and data – that are now part of a business's “standard operating procedures.” Consequently, cybersecurity must be incorporated as a central element to the business plan and the operational procedures for almost every organization. The influence of technology on the Region’s strategic industry sectors is detailed in EAGB’s industry profiles and in many previous editions of Region on Point.
This article will highlight the challenges of three industry sectors that are increasingly dependent upon technological advances and the resulting need to address the cybersecurity issues introduced by this technology. The richness of the Region’s cybersecurity assets provides the talent and resources to assist these sectors in understanding and mitigating the cyber risks they face (learn more in EAGB's Cybersecurity Industry Profile, https://www.greaterbaltimore.org/data/our-industries/cybersecurity). The Industry Spotlight section of this issue of Region on Point highlights companies and industry organizations working to tackle these risks head on.
Cybersecurity in Healthcare
The impact of technology on all elements of healthcare has transformed the industry including direct patient care, the insurance industry and the growth of digital health as a major sector driving progress toward mutual overarching goals – increasing efficiencies, decreasing costs and increasing access in order to produce better health outcomes.
Medical professionals rely on networked medical devices that are web-enabled and often connected to a larger healthcare network including hospitals and clinics. These devices allow the provider to more rapidly access and share patient information and reduce the time it takes to make sometimes life-saving decisions and deliver essential patient care. Increasingly, the use of these devices enables healthcare providers to monitor patients remotely, leading to earlier interventions and diagnoses as well as increased access and better outcomes, particularly for chronic conditions.
Digital health focuses on connecting the systems, tools, medical devices, and services together that deliver needed healthcare, thereby reducing inefficiencies, improving access to information and services and allowing for more personalized care. These advances also increase the risk of cybersecurity threats. The FDA’s Digital Health Center of Excellence provides guidance and resources for addressing cybersecurity risk in the industry: https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/digital-health-center-excellence/cybersecurity#risks.
Healthcare’s cybersecurity challenges also include factors that are not as prevalent in other sectors – the need to protect private financial and medical information in addition to intellectual property.
While threats cannot be eliminated, vulnerabilities must be addressed throughout the healthcare ecosystem – hospitals and other provider networks, insurers, digital health products –programs and devices – and manufacturers. Preventive processes and technologies should be employed to prevent security threats rather than detecting breaches and remedying the impact they cause.
Cybersecurity in Manufacturing
Whichever terminology is used to describe today’s manufacturing industry – Industry 4.0 or Advanced Manufacturing – it is clear that technology is driving the sector’s growth and companies who wish to increase their competitive edge, market share and ROI must incorporate technology into all elements of their business, including product design, production and distribution. However, as with healthcare, technology and innovation also introduce cyber risk and threats.
While once a company’s network was only connected internally, today’s industry requires increased connections through the internet and IoT with the vendors they must interact with throughout the supply chain and distribution networks. A company’s products and process are their intellectual property and must be protected against theft if they want to maintain their competitive edge. As more and more sophisticated technologies are incorporated into operations, the cyber risk also increases.
Additionally, the increased digitalization of customer interactions and expectations, skyrocketing since the onset of the pandemic caused by COVID-19, is here to stay and is greatly influencing the need for every organization along the product development, production and delivery supply chain to apply technological advancements to increase speed to market.
Cyber risk and innovative manufacturing are inextricably linked and must be integrated into a company’s business model and operating procedures. And the manufacturing industry of today – and tomorrow – will continue to require incorporation of innovation to address the needs of the marketplace.
Cybersecurity in Logistics
As with manufacturing, speed to market is a major factor in the increasing application of innovation in the logistics industry. E-commerce, on the rise for the past decade or more, has exploded since the onset of the pandemic. Forced to purchase everything online from groceries to clothing to household products necessary for everyday life, consumers have come to demand and expect overnight if not same-day delivery.
The growing focus on speed-to-market required retail establishments to develop and incorporate web-enabled platforms that not only communicated with their customers but also with their suppliers. The impact on the logistics industry was felt immediately and companies who had not already looked to innovation and technology to increase efficiencies along their entire supply chain and distribution/warehousing networks as well as their on-line customer interface were forced to quickly adapt. This paradigm is here to stay.
Companies don’t make money when product is sitting in warehouses, cargo containers or on ships or docks, so getting product off-loaded, stored if necessary then quickly loaded onto trucks or freight rail to deliver to customers is paramount. The use of technology-enabled devices such as monitoring sensors and other IoT devices help manage and expedite all processes along the supply chain.
Route and driver management software using AI route improvement programs and in-vehicle monitoring systems improve driver performance and decrease time of delivery, creating safer roads while improving efficiency and lowering costs.
The demands of the marketplace have also increased the need for logistics companies to communicate outside of their internal networks to vendors, suppliers and other partners along the supply chain. Efficiencies are gained but the opportunities for breaching the security of a now expanded and more difficult to control network are magnified.
The application of newer and newer innovations and technologies in all industry sectors will continue in a highly competitive and often global marketplace. Incorporating cybersecurity systems into an organization’s business plan and operating models is critical in order to deliver on the customer’s expectations whether in healthcare or producing and delivering the goods and services we all need and want.