cyber security

How does the automation industry manage cyber security in India?

In 2023, India’s industrial automation (IA) market reached an estimated value of $11 billion and is expected to exhibit a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of around 14 per cent from 2022 to 2027. Projections indicate a substantial increase to $23 billion in 2027. Prominent contributors to this sector include manufacturers involved in producing (closed-circuit) TVs, mobile electronics, air-conditioners, automotive and aviation vehicles, energy products (gas, diesel, petrochemicals), and healthcare solutions. Key entities serving the Indian IA market, spanning both private and public sectors, include General Electric, Reliance Industries, Rockwell Automation, Siemens India, Honeywell Automation, ABB India, BHEL, Mitsubishi Electric, Larsen and Toubro, and Titan Engineering.

At the heart of the IA market’s functionality lies core technology, distinguishable from conventional information technology (IT) in non-IA enterprises. This technology hinges on (AI/ML-driven) intra-organization Internet of Things (IoT) and operational technology (OT) integrated Industrial IoT (IIoT) networks. These intelligent networks, complemented by associated software and mobile applications, empower organizations to:

  • Effectively manage logistics and supply chains in real time.
  • Enhance customer retention by minimizing customer churn.
  • Attain production efficiency by minimizing waste production.
  • Accelerate product market entry.

With the deep penetration of cyber security in different industries, it has become a promising career path. In such a scenario, enrolling in IIT’s cyber security program positions you as a sought-after professional, propelling you to the forefront of diverse industries. IIT’s cutting-edge curriculum ensures you master the latest cyber defense strategies and technologies. You emerge as a versatile expert with hands-on experience in threat detection, risk management, and secure system design. Whether in finance, healthcare, or tech, your proficiency in safeguarding critical assets and data sets you apart. Stay ahead in the ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape, securing your position as an invaluable asset in today’s competitive job market.

Automation Industry: An Introduction

The dynamic and transformative automation industry pioneers the integration of latest and cutting-edge technologies to enhance operational efficiency across diverse fields. With a relentless focus on innovation, automation solutions employ advanced machinery, artificial intelligence, and robotics to streamline processes, boost productivity, and minimize human intervention. From manufacturing and logistics to healthcare and beyond, the automation industry continues to redefine standards, driving economic growth and ushering in a new era of unprecedented possibilities. In an era increasingly shaped by technological advancements, automation stands at the forefront, reshaping industries and revolutionizing how we live and work.

Growing Significance of the Automation Industry in India

The automation industry in India is experiencing remarkable growth, playing a pivotal role in transforming traditional sectors. With increased adoption across manufacturing, healthcare, and logistics, automation enhances efficiency, reduces costs, and boosts competitiveness. The relentless pursuit of innovation and integration of cutting-edge technologies underscores its growing significance, shaping a future where automation becomes synonymous with increased productivity and sustainable development in the Indian landscape.

Cybersecurity Challenges in the Automation Industry

The automation industry confronts an intricate web of cybersecurity challenges marked by a multifaceted landscape of cyber threats. A. The spectrum spans conventional malware to sophisticated attacks, presenting a constant risk to automation systems. B. Risks associated with these systems include vulnerabilities that might lead to unauthorized access, data breaches, and potential disruption of critical operations. These risks are amplified by the increasing interconnectivity of devices in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). C. Cyber attacks on industrial processes can trigger far-reaching consequences, ranging from operational downtime and financial losses to compromised safety protocols. The potential for malicious actors to manipulate automated systems poses a significant threat to the integrity of critical infrastructure.

To mitigate these challenges, the automation industry must implement robust cybersecurity measures. This involves advanced authentication protocols, stringent network security practices, and regular assessments to identify and address vulnerabilities. Moreover, fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness among personnel becomes crucial in preventing human-related security breaches. As the industry continues to evolve, the proactive adoption of cybersecurity strategies is imperative to fortify the resilience of automation systems against the evolving and sophisticated landscape of cyber threats. The automation industry can only safeguard its pivotal role in shaping a technologically advanced and secure future through a comprehensive and adaptive approach.

Enhancing Cyber-Risk Management in Industrial Automation

Here are five key managerial steps integral to a robust and efficient security program for industrial automation to improve cyber-risk management:

Chart an Incident Response Plan Specific to Industrial Automation Systems:

An effective incident response plan for industrial automation must seamlessly integrate the complexities of OT environments into its design process. This integration should not be an addendum but an integral part of the security program. For instance, managers should align threat detection, IA process network architecture, and cyber data collection with incident response requirements during the IR program design. They should proactively address potential questions for successful IR before a cyber incident occurs. Specifically, managers should create attacker-defender scenarios, focusing on safeguarding critical assets, and conduct tabletop exercises to assess the organization’s preparedness.

Mitigate IA Enterprise Cyber-Risk with Defensible Architectures

IA enterprise management should deploy defense architectures to minimize cyber-risk exposure to ransomware and APT threats. This involves:

  • Identifying and inventorying crown jewels within IA sites.
  • Segmenting process networked environments to create “choke points” for enhanced security and monitoring.
  • Collecting IT/OT network traffic using switched port analyzer (SPAN) ports or tap infrastructure.
  • Logging system cyber data from key components like HMIs, EWSs, SCADAs, and PLCs.
  • Establishing a defensible cyber-position to reduce undesired connectivity between IT/OT devices.

Ensure Continuous IA Network Visibility and Monitoring

Given the complex architecture of IA enterprises, effective network traffic monitoring (e.g., deep packet inspection) and AI/ML-driven analysis are crucial for understanding subsystem interactions. This enhances general resilience, aids in recovery to minimize downtime, and avoids unnecessary alerts for incident response teams. The network monitoring team should:

  • Adopt a non-intrusive monitoring approach.
  • Analyze IA networking protocols to understand control communications.
  • Implement targeted threat and vulnerability detection mechanisms to avoid excessive alerts.
  • Facilitate real-time data collection and aggregation at the process level for incident response.
  • Support root cause analysis of operational issues and outages.

Secure Remote Access for Industrial Automation Infrastructure

With increased remote connectivity in OT systems and ongoing remote work practices, it is crucial to address cyber risks. Secure remote access within an IA enterprise is essential. Deploying multi-factor authentication (MFA) and zero-trust solutions can significantly reduce attack paths. Management should prioritize secure traversal paths, emphasizing private networks over public ones. In cases where MFA and zero-trust solutions are not feasible, incorporate controls like jump hosts, “break and inspect” for communications, guide remote traffic through “choke points,” and enable communication cutoff in specific scenarios.

Promote Risk-Based Vulnerability Management

IA enterprise management must comprehend cyber controls and device operating conditions to inform risk-based decisions for vulnerability management. Recommended actions include:

  • Generate a software bill of materials (SBOM) for identifying and mitigate cyber vulnerabilities.
  • Exercise caution with excessive reliance on patching, considering potential additional risks; favor vulnerability mitigation through firewall adjustments when appropriate.
  • Ensure that active querying follows testing and attempts to confine querying to maintenance windows or facility downtime.


A holistic approach is imperative in navigating the dynamic landscape of cybersecurity in India’s automation industry. This blog explored the industry’s strategies, emphasizing risk-based vulnerability management, secure remote access, and continuous network monitoring. Amidst these challenges, courses offered by institutions like IIT in cyber security play a pivotal role. These programs equip individuals with cutting-edge skills, fostering a workforce capable of addressing the evolving threats. As technology advances, the symbiotic relationship between industry practices and educational initiatives, exemplified by IIT cyber security courses, becomes paramount in fortifying India’s automation sector against cyber threats.

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