A Guide to Securing Digital Twin and Fostering Innovation in Manufacturing


Ruchir Kakkad

29 Nov 2022

9 min

The constant technological evolution has enabled businesses to utilize and adopt novel product manufacturing methods. Digital Twin could be the best example of how tech-savvy companies bring innovation to their real-life work.

According to one report, the digital twin market is expected to grow from $6.9 billion in 2022 to 73.5 billion by 2027. Also, the report mentioned that the market is expected to grow at a 60.6% CAGR between the period 2022-2027.

The increased adoption of this new-age technology will arm enterprises to build better future products. Digital twin companies can streamline the data flow between real-world and digital entities.

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However, the industry is still in the initial phase and prone to security flaws that can wreak havoc on your enterprise systems.

In this guide, we’ll explore different avenues of how you can secure your digital twin and foster innovation in your manufacturing. But first, let’s understand what a digital twin is.

What is Digital Twin?

Digital Twin are virtual representations of how real-life objects or systems operate and work. It’s more than a blueprint or schematics and uses simulation to test products in virtual scenarios before manufacturing their physical prototype.

Apart from simulation, this virtual representation uses reasoning, IoT devices, and AI capabilities for decision-making. In simple words, a digital twin is a virtually represented model that accurately simulates a lot of different scenarios before manufacturing the physical object.

For instance, a digital twin makes sure that a virtual windmill or a high-speed train, or a motor is designed to bring out the highest quality product. When implemented correctly, digital twin manufacturing will help facilitate better operations and design of the product.

The digital twin comes fitted with different IoT sensors that record and provide insights into different possibilities. Through these insights, we can gauge how the system would perform and give output if it was placed in the real world.
Once adorned with such data, you can clone the virtual model to run simulations and study any issues or need for enhancements. Doing so helps you improve your original real-life product and keep full transparency.

But as we know, the data flows easily from real-world entities to the digital twin, which poses a serious challenge for security. So, let’s get to know how you can secure your digital twin manufacturing:

5 Ways to Secure Digital Twin to Foster Innovation in Manufacturing

Analyzing the Risk Potentials

Several risk potentials can compromise the security of your digital twin by hacking real-world data. For instance, a malicious code or vulnerability can hack into your data streams for the digital twin manufacturing line of your product.

Such threats also carry the risk of damaging any IoT infrastructure or mechanical elements. The only way to deal with such risks is for digital twin companies to periodically analyze their security protocols and review their access controls.

You should control who and why someone accesses your digital twin and its data to thoroughly review and check your server security. Since all your digital twin data is stored on physical servers or on the cloud, you must ensure they are secured with proper measures without any gaps left.

Enhance Security of IoT Infrastructure

As we know, the digital twin in the manufacturing of real-life products relies on the excessive use of IoT infrastructure and sensors. These sensors offer several benefits like gathering, transmitting, and processing the data in real-time. However, IoT devices are one of the security loopholes in your network.

A single IoT device can very well handle the data, but as a manufacturer, you can’t anticipate how this data will be used and how the product will interact with other IoT devices. Thus, you can’t leave it up to the user to configure their products for each device to maintain network security.

Digital twin companies should step in and check whether their product’s configuration aligns with the network security practices. You need to ensure that your IoT infrastructure is pre-configured and isn’t exposed to any significant risk.

Boost Network Security

Another way manufacturers can foster innovation in their product manufacturing lifecycle and digital twin is by strengthening network security. Since the concept of the digital twin in manufacturing is still relatively new, many haven’t adjusted to the bare minimum network security requirements yet.

Also, most digital twin companies struggle to define where their virtual twin will live and how it’ll communicate with real-world counterparts. If you want to bolster the network security of your digital twin, answer the following questions:

  • What communication network should a twin use when gathering data?
  • How secure would those communication lines be?

Currently, manufacturers use Purdue Enterprise Reference Architecture (PERA) for housing digital twin. PERA is a security model for Industrial Control Systems (ICS) and was developed in 1990.

But as technology has evolved since then, such enterprise architecture types are not going to be enough. The alternative to this legacy tech is to use a Zero Trust model or air-gap networking security model where a section of the network will house the sensors. The examples of the air-gap method include,

  • Military & government computers
  • Financial computers
  • Industrial control systems like SCADA
  • Life critical systems
  • Nuclear power plants control centers
  • Computers in aviation

The method isolates the outside communication for better but it can result in manual data uploads that can cause the digital twin to fall behind the real-world condition.

To mitigate such challenges, digital twin companies need to work closely with network design experts to brainstorm better ways to secure network data.

Digital Twin Model Security

Digital twin security modeling is an underrated but useful preventive measure for the security of your virtual representations and fosters innovation. Companies can model attacks on their digital twin systems to assess the impact on their real-world products.

You can experiment with different threats and model scenarios to learn more about the network and its vulnerability. You could also perform penetration tests and attack your system in a controlled manner for continuous security monitoring.

After implementing such tests, analyze and prepare a detailed analysis report for creating a change management plan. Doing so will help improve your digital twin system’s security further.

Implementing Zero-Trust

Zero-trust is a framework requiring all the users to be authenticated, validated, and authorized each time for security configuration. Regardless if the user is from inside the organization or outside, it needs to go through the same process before gaining access to the system.

Zero-trust solutions are a great way to solve network security issues since most portions of the cybersecurity network have moved to automation. They are emerging as the best solution for sophisticated networks and allow digital twin systems to communicate seamlessly.

Zero-trust also provides organizations with a stronghold on their data and with whom they are shared. This will result in better control over the digital twin manufacturing and better manage the risks.

Final Thoughts

As mentioned, the Process Digital Twin uses mixed reality, AI, and high-performance computing to optimize the entire manufacturing process. It goes beyond just the single machine to encompass the manufacturing environment.

Moreover, in the Process Digital Twin, manufacturers can use an immersive hologram to work in both virtual and physical models. However, it’s a new class of digital twin that needs strong security protocols for a safer virtual and physical manufacturing environment.

Here we have provided several ways to secure and foster your Process Digital Twin in manufacturing. However, the implementation will require the hands of experts like WebOccult Technologies. We have a proficient team for digital twin predictive maintenance, threat monitoring, design, and simulation to facilitate end-to-end digital twin creation.

Contact us to consult with our team of experts for all your digital twin creation and security requirements

  • AI/ML
  • Web Development
  • Laravel
  • Computer Vision
  • Mobile App Development
  • Digital Twin
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