Unplanned downtime costs industrial manufacturers an estimated $50 billion each year — a fact cybercriminals often exploit. In 2022, cybercriminals focused more extortion attempts on manufacturing than any other industry, banking on the assumption that manufacturers would pay ransoms due to their low tolerance for work disruptions. 

Human-machine interface (HMI) security is critical for the manufacturing industry's resilience against cyberthreats. When not secured, HMIs can become vulnerable points of entry for bad actors, potentially leading to unauthorized access and disruptions in operations. This poses significant risks to employee productivity, data integrity, and worker safety.

However, there’s an easy way to protect against the threat of cyberattacks, and it starts with removing manual entry of passwords or PINs to access sensitive data and systems. Passwords are the cause of many data breaches because they’re typically reused and often shared, making them easier to hack. 

By investing in radio-frequency identification (RFID) logical access control, organizations can enhance HMI security, streamline access control processes, and significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access.


Why is HMI security critical?


An HMI is a technology or system that serves as the point of interaction between humans and machines, enabling users to monitor, control, and communicate with industrial equipment or processes in a more intuitive and user-friendly manner. HMIs grant access to production systems and sensitive production data, which is why safeguarding HMIs from unauthorized access, cyberthreats, and potential disruptions is paramount. 

Without robust security measures in place, HMIs can fall victim to both internal threats (like unauthorized access by employees, intentional sabotage, or human error) and external threats (like ransomware attacks and phishing attempts). For example, bad actors could access an HMI either remotely or in person and make changes that jeopardize product quality or create hazardous working conditions. Not only do these threats affect worker safety, but they can also lead to costly downtime.

RFID authentication solutions like WAVE ID® readers from rf IDEAS can boost your HMI security and better protect your organization from cyberattacks. 


How WAVE ID readers can protect your HMI systems


Protecting your HMI systems from cyberattacks starts with having the right tools and technology. To eliminate vulnerabilities and ensure your security posture is strong, consider deploying WAVE ID® single sign-on readers — like the WAVE ID® Plus Surface Mount —​​ to provide seamless authentication and secure logical access control. WAVE ID® readers can help you: 


1. Save time and increase security


More than 80% of successful data breaches are the result of compromised login credentials. Manual entry also takes valuable time out of an employee’s day — and that’s if they even remember their password on the first try. But by removing the need to manually type in credentials, you can improve workflow efficiency and get employees back to work more quickly.

Single sign-on and multi-factor authentication (MFA) solutions like WAVE ID® readers eliminate vulnerable points of attack, increasing security with a simple tap of an ID badge, smartphone, or fingerprint. Additionally, robust identity and access management solutions ensure that only authorized individuals have access to equipment, data, multi-function printers, and more.


2. Maintain compliance


The manufacturing industry must comply with strict operating and safety standards, including OSHA regulations. WAVE ID® readers verify an employee’s credentials and training record instantly so only qualified individuals can access equipment. And since these readers are passwordless, employees do not need to remove their safety gloves to log in. 

Additionally, logical access readers enable time and attendance tracking so you can monitor and validate employees’ training records to ensure accountability and compliance with regulatory mandates. You can also identify the employee that’s operating a specific machine, track the changes they make, and verify whether they are an authorized user — further boosting security and providing a complete audit trail.


3. Secure shared workstations 

WAVE ID® Plus Surface Mount

Leaving a workstation unlocked and unattended, even for just a minute, can expose your organization to security risks, privacy concerns, regulatory issues, and opportunities for tampering. But rf IDEAS’ solutions detect when a user steps away and locks the workstation, eliminating these risks. And with the ease of single sign-on readers, the authorized employee can quickly and seamlessly unlock the workstation with their credentials when they return.

For example, the WAVE ID® Plus Surface Mount is IP67-rated and can be affixed to HMI, SCADA, and PLC systems, ensuring durability and swift, secure access.


4. Improve HMI security and drive productivity


If not adequately secured, HMI systems can leave industrial processes vulnerable to exploitation, unauthorized access, and potential disruptions. But with rf IDEAS' readers, which are compatible with nearly every existing credential, you can strengthen security, deliver workforce productivity, and achieve compliance. 

rf IDEAS is compatible with the top HMI, SCADA, and Inductive Automation manufacturers and systems, including Rockwell Automation, Siemens, Schneider Electric, Allen Bradley, and Omron. Our WAVE ID® readers are also built to withstand demanding conditions so you can rely on consistent performance and secure access control even in challenging environments.

Ready to improve HMI security at your organization? Get in touch with rf IDEAS to learn more about available options.


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