The appreciation for and applications of 3D printing continues to grow each day. 3D printing has changed the perspective of people involved in prototype creation and manufacturing. It has made it relatively easy and cost-effective to develop agile tooling in manufacturing, bioprinting in medicine, and powder binding in end-use products.
But as 3D printing surges, cyberattacks and threats against this technology are a real threat. 3D printers are primarily cloud-based, which makes them susceptible to malicious attacks by hackers. Understanding these risks and finding ways to combat them should be part of every company’s effort to optimize the 3D printing processes.
3D Printing And Cyber Threats
Using 3D printers, individuals and companies can develop prosthetics, spare parts, firearms, musical instruments, and any object of choice. However, 3D printers are at the risk of hacking attacks leading to design leaks, copyright infringements and loss of sales and reputation for a company.
These threats mostly stem from the connection of 3D printers to the internet and the shared use of manufacturing-as-a-service (MaaS) networks. The introduction of cloud computing enables many individuals and firms to work remotely and keep their data stored in the cloud. This data, however, is subject to malicious attacks from people who want to achieve the following:
- obtain digital design files
- steal intellectual property (IP)
- create a counterfeit design version
- manipulate output traceability
- alter the integrity of designs
- introduce design modifications
How To Stay Ahead Of Risks
Cyberattacks slow down the printing process, alter the confidentiality of designs, and affect the production of printed objects. However, there are various ways to move forward from these risks. For instance, you can partner with a Chicago IT services company to improve your security measures. Moreover, below are seven steps you can take to combat cybersecurity risks in 3D printing:
- Risk Assessment
Before you begin the 3D printing process, it’ll be best if you conduct a risk assessment. Risk assessment is the identification of cybersecurity risks that could potentially affect the productivity of 3D printing. A comprehensive risk assessment enables you to identify risks, understand their potential impact on your operations, and develop measures for combating malicious attacks.
For instance, 3D scanning is needed to take accurate printing measurements and modify data with computer-aided design (CAD). But throughout that process, 3D printing is prone to theft and data corruption. Unless you identify these thefts through risk assessment, it would be difficult to create confidential 3D-printed objects.
- Network Security
How secure is your network? You should know the answer to this question if you’re to combat cybersecurity threats. You have to ensure security measures are in place for your 3D printing system—including the 3D printer, 3D printing software, and cloud services. That way, you can easily prevent, detect, and monitor any malicious attacks.
If you’re unsure what exactly you should work on to improve your network security, follow some of the best practices below:
- Perform a network audit.
- Limit access to your printer.
- Use strong passwords.
- Update antivirus software.
- Segment and segregate your network.
- Use VPNs.
- File Encryption
File encryption works like a door with a highly specific key. Only those with the key can gain access to your files. Those without it can only wish to gain entry and retrieve whatever is behind the door.
You can encrypt files to combat cybersecurity risks in 3D printing by encoding data only you can read. This makes the data transparent to you but not to others. So, you can always access your files whenever you want.
- Regular Inspection
Even after you’ve put up security measures, you still need to patrol the system. Regular security inspection allows you to check your security systems and assess them based on set parameters. The purpose is to establish compliance and uncover threats.
You can do a design inspection of your 3D printers, code inspection, or deployment inspection of printing materials. Each of these inspection processes provides you with the tools to combat cybersecurity risks in 3D printing.
- Expert Consultation
Security experts know what to add and remove from your 3D printer’s security system to make it more secure. So, it’s best to consult experts and stay in touch with them during and after adopting security measures.
Although consulting experts come at a fee, it’s worth every penny considering the hefty costs of cyberattacks. Security experts ensure you’re implementing the best security practices to prevent cyber threats and optimize the 3D printing process.
A rise in cybersecurity risks has accompanied the growth and massive benefits of 3D printing. 3D printers and printing processes are mostly cloud-based, making them prone to cyberattacks. The best way to avoid these threats is to implement the best cybersecurity practices in 3D printing.
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