Does total networking expose easy targets?

Networking with customers, partners and suppliers does not automatically result in an organization’s own systems and facilities becoming less secure and thus open to cyberattacks. In fact, quite the opposite is true – if implemented professionally, networking makes the companies involved more aware of the need to handle their data more responsibly and securely. Only those companies that take an open-minded approach to networking issues in the Industry 4.0 context have the chance to succeed in the new industrial marketplace.

When industry talks about networking, the issue of data security soon comes to the fore. Are my data and documents in the cloud adequately protected? Doesn’t opening up IT bring with it significant potential risks from hackers and unauthorized access? The concerns are understandable, and yet a wide variety of security solutions now exist on the market to provide effective protection for corporate and customer data in the cloud. The technology is not the problem. The greater risk factor in networking is people and their frequently careless handling of data.

Outsourcing IT security to external companies thus pays off in particular for small and midsize companies, who cannot generally afford in-house IT security experts. It is essential to develop an appropriate security concept at the outset – what data is absolutely critical to the business and must not get into the wrong hands? What are the potential attack scenarios I want to protect myself against? What data can be shared in an open community? What know-how in my own company – in collaboration with partners and suppliers – helps develop value creation ecosystems, establish standards internationally and thus safeguard my own access to the market?

Companies that opt to benefit from the enormous opportunities offered by networking don’t have to start on a large scale right away. It makes perfect sense to gain initial experience in the manageable and closed space of a private cloud. If networking is intended to optimize production, for example, all the necessary data is available in-house. Once companies recognize the benefits, further business processes and cooperation models in the networked world will soon follow.