Additive manufacturing may reach the point of becoming the standard for manufacturing. Additionally, market forecasts show that it’s to become the new norm in the coming decades. From medical devices, transportation, and more, the progress achieved from AM is sure to be exponential. However, experts now have realised the need to address major additive manufacturing security issues if the technology is to proliferate even more.
As with every new technology, new concerns, specifically security-related, always come to the fore. Keeping information and technology secure remains a constant struggle with most technological advances. The dangers of the illegal spread of data are more far-reaching than simply intellectual property (IP) theft or sabotage. They may become a matter of life and death in extreme cases.
As such, modern companies will have to adapt and find ways to address these threats. Additionally, some tried and true methods of dealing with these security issues may be more straightforward than initially thought. These methods developed by multiple companies across the world including an expert IT company in Johannesburg and other professionals are sure to beef up your company’s security.
Continue reading and discover some of the more common additive manufacturing security issues and the different methods you can use to address them.
Common Additive Manufacturing Security Issues
1. File Integrity
Any piece of information stored on a computer must always be considered a liability. Digital files used in AM are no different. As such, addressing this problem first can provide crucial insight into more areas that need a more rigid security system throughout your company’s AM process.
Important digital files used in AM include design files, product models, client data, etc. While computers have made processes more accessible and streamlined, they also provide a centralized area for attack. Furthermore, your file integrity can be tampered with even without direct access to your computer.
For example, transferring information to and from a computer requires the use of flash drives. Moreover, hackers gain access to your files through unprotected internet connections and IP addresses. All of these can happen discreetly and quickly.
Ultimately, implementing a rigid cybersecurity plan can address these concerns. As most experts agree, protecting your data from the inside out will be the best place to start.
Simple things like prohibiting any recording device near the production floor can go a long way. Moreover, blocking unrelated files or connections can prevent outside sources from gaining access. Simple things like these can be the most robust protection against theft.
2. Process Sabotage
This is one of the major additive manufacturing security concerns across sectors. Some key areas of progress with AM include rapid prototyping concerning its cost-effectiveness. This process is especially significant for the future of medical devices. Now, companies can truly push the limits of research and development without becoming unreasonably expensive for consumers.
However, file access can have fatal consequences when a hacker aims to destroy your company’s reputation. Data connects everything, from the start of the process to the product’s delivery. Moreover, they can follow the data thread to learn more about your company. This information is vital when aiming to manufacture or reverse engineer your product illegally.
While this is plenty enough to cause an alarm, the problems can go deeper. Hackers can also implement failure points on crucial areas without the knowledge of designers. Malicious attacks like these can become hazards for your consumers, employees, and products.
The implementation of emerging forms of product tracing can combat these elements. Adding a composite material during product build is being looked at to mark and trace AM products. Although the composite is experimental and may need to undergo standardizing, the general idea is a helpful reminder for companies.
3. Illegal Part Manufacturing
One more additive manufacturing security concern is the unauthorized use of AM machinery. When creation becomes limitless, it can open the way for more sinister elements. While it may not seem obvious, the production of dangerous and illegal materials is closer than you assume.
Some examples of these items include:
- Explosive devices
- Patented products
- Keys and access cards
As such, the focus here will be keeping a close watch on your machinery. The battle for AM security is one fought in the digital and physical spaces. Standard security measures like surveillance can help mitigate risks. Additionally, having access to the machinery and computers entrusted to only a few qualified employees help minimise the areas for access. Ultimately, trusting your employees is always preferred, but putting boundaries in place can be an excellent deterrent for these elements.
If the technology has to lead the world into the new era of production sustainability we need to address these common additive manufacturing security issues The amount of good AM achieves can be as limitless as the items it can create. Doing what you can to keep the technology in good hands can help move it in the right direction. Whether through cybersecurity or physical means, protecting your AM machinery means approaching the issue from all angles.
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