Sarenet secures connections when adapting to Industry 4.0

Sarenet secures Ulma Conveyor Components’ connections as it adapts to Industry 4.0

The customised solution implemented was based on the segmentation and segregation of the IT networks of the business and OT of the production plant, while installing state-of-the-art firewalls capable of filtering communications between the two environments

Its implementation has prevented network misuse, reduced the exposure plan for critical data in the design and manufacturing processes and made remote access more secure

Sarenet (https://www.sarenet.es), the voice and data and hosting services operator specialising in business, has implemented a solution at ULMA Conveyor Components (http://www.ulmaconveyor.com) that substantially improves communications between its IT and OT networks and incorporates state-of-the-art cybersecurity tools for maximum protection of its infrastructure. ULMA Conveyor Components is a company dedicated to the design, manufacture and commercialisation of components for bulk transport such as rollers, garlands, supports and drums, mainly aimed at the mining, energy, cement and steel sectors, both nationally and internationally.

With headquarters in Otxandio (Bizkaia) and commercial subsidiaries in Germany, Chile and Peru, the company is part of the ULMA Group, one of the most important business holdings in northern Spain. With more than 60 years of history, it is present in 81 countries, with 5,500 workers and a turnover of 900 million euros.

The opening of subsidiaries abroad, the growing transformation towards a much more automated production system, the growth of elements connected to each other and to the outside world via the internet and, in short, the unstoppable advance towards Industry 4.0 led ULMA Conveyor Components to decide to turn to industrial cybersecurity experts such as Sarenet to protect its communications network with a security structure that would avoid jeopardising the proper functioning of its production plant. Above all, they were looking for a customised solution and ongoing, close project management advice for the organisation’s entire IoT environment, in order to stay well protected against new additions to the digital industry and against cyber-attacks, which were growing in diversity and complexity.

Sarenet’s solution

After conducting a full audit of the IT/OT networks to understand how the company’s assets were working and to analyse potential risks and vulnerabilities, Sarenet gained a clear picture of what was happening on the network and the detail of traffic between the two environments, which enabled it to define the bespoke security plan that needed to be put in place.

Firstly, the IT/OT networks were segmented and segregated based on the ISA/IEC 62443 standard, specific for industrial sector networks, which indicates how to structure and organise a network by encompassing the business IT network and the OT network of the production plant.

At the same time, cybersecurity elements capable of filtering communications between both environments were installed, for which state-of-the-art firewalls were used, creating access and control policies between different areas of the plant and office, as well as defining rules to control remote access. Finally, behind this security layer, core and distribution switches were installed and configured according to the needs of each specific case. This avoided the risk of possible erratic operation of the automated machines due to any failure or attack on the internet or, worse still, forced stoppages in the production process.

In this way, it has been possible to prevent improper use of the network, achieving greater control over production and access to the information of each department or person. At the same time, the level of exposure of critical data has been reduced and the loss or transfer of confidential information on design and manufacturing processes has been avoided, in addition to achieving more secure remote access.

“In such a globalised world in which everything is connected,” stresses Miguel Pastor, Operations Director at ULMA Conveyor Components, “we have to be sure that our networks are protected, which is essential if we are not to lose competitiveness and continue to make progress in the digitalisation of the industry. Aware of their lack of technical knowledge to tackle the project, their decision to turn to Sarenet to obtain the solution that best adapted to their specific case “was decisive in implementing a secure and customised architecture for all the organisation’s communications, one of our greatest concerns in the process of evolution towards Industry 4.0”, concludes Pastor.