Machine Safety: Safety and security combined

Some recent reports, cyber attacks have grown by 600% since 2010 costing industry around $400 billion a year impacting productivity, machine uptime and profitability. Machine safety automation also addresses productivity, uptime and profitability. Perhaps “safety” and “security” efforts should combine.


Cost of reducing cyber security risk needs to be factored into any technology transition. Courtesy: Control EngineeringSome recent reports say cyber attacks have grown by 600% since 2010 costing industry around $400 billion a year impacting productivity, machine uptime and profitability. Machine safety automation also addresses productivity, uptime and profitability. Perhaps “safety” and “security” efforts should combine.

The awareness of security of control systems in manufacturing is slowly growing, yet I believe it still suffers from a lack of identity within industrial facilities. There doesn't seem to be a lot of activity around the understanding of cyber security issues or cyber security best practices? Yet, $400 billion seems like a big number to me!

Over the same years that cyber attacks have grown by 600%, machine safety automation has evolved into integrated control systems, networks, and wireless applications. These machine safety systems also can drive greater productivity, machine uptime and profitability. Therefore, shouldn’t “safety” and “security” efforts combine as a result of business dynamics? In my opinion, the answer is yes because they both can come together physically at the same top level in the control architecture of a machine.

Both of these worlds depend heavily on technology as we just briefly reviewed. And I believe that both worlds are heavily influenced by their separate cultures. However, I see a difference in their development and strength as it relates to their organizational influence capabilities. It seems that safety cultures in industry are significantly better developed and mature compared to security cultures. In addition, and in my experience, safety cultures (for better or worse) have existed in manufacturing for decades. If cyber security cultures existed during this same time I saw them focused at the IT department and human resource department levels but not at the level of machine control systems or factory automation.

Perhaps ultimately it is the availability of smarter technologies that will give organizations the ability to integrate these two worlds, potentially affecting machine productivity, machine uptime and profitability.

I'd be interested in hearing if machine safety and cyber security efforts are integrating in your location. Leave a comment below, please.

Related articles:

Safety and Security enewsletter

Security ranked as a top challenge facing automation

Security as fundamental as safety

Contact: for “Solutions for Machine Safety.”



Perry , United States, 11/06/14 10:11 AM:

Yes and no. Yes - the merger of safety and security in the top level of the control architecture probably makes good business sense. No - for super critical applications where the compromise of a safety system can lead to serious physical damage to plant equipment, serious damage to the environment, or loss of life, then the increase in attack surface may be completely unacceptable.
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