Technology

Industry 4.0: CNC Machine Security Risks Part 1

Computer numerical controls (CNCs) are machines used to produce products in a factory setting. They have been in use for many years, and in the last decade, their use has become more widespread due to increased connectivity, and vulnerability.

This increased connectivity has made them more software-dependent and therefore more vulnerable to attacks. This vulnerability is due to the heterogeneity of technologies used in factories and the lack of awareness among users of how to best secure these systems.

This three-part blog series explores the risks associated with CNC machines. We performed a security evaluation on four representative vendors and analyzed technological developments that satisfy the Industry 4 .0 paradigm while conducting practical attacks against real-world installations.

For our research, we picked vendors that are:

  • Are geographically distributed (that is, with headquarters and subsidiaries spread across the world) and resell on a global scale.
  • Have been on the market for decades.
  • Have a large, estimated size, for example, with a total annual revenue of at least a billion US dollars.
  • Use technologies widely adopted in the domain and present in different manufacturing sectors.
Understanding numerical control machines

A machine tool is a device that uses cutting tools to remove material from a workpiece. This process, called machining, results in the desired geometry of the workpiece. Machining is a subtractive process, meaning that the material is removed from the original geometry to create the desired shape.

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Numerical control (NC) is a technology that allows machines to be controlled by computers. This technology has revolutionized machine tools, making them more accurate and allowing for greater flexibility in their use. NC machine tools are now widely used in production systems and can be used on other types of machines, such as lasers and bending machines.

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