Top 10 Security Requirements for a MES System

Top 10 Security Requirements for a MES System

Top 10 Security Requirements for a MES System 6912 3456 Centro de Ciberseguridad Industrial

Ensuring data and operations protection

The implementation of an effective and secure MES (Manufacturing Execution System) system is essential to ensure the efficiency and reliability of production operations in an organization. To achieve this, several security requirements must be taken into account. Below, we will explore the Top 10 key security requirements that should be considered when implementing an MES system.

1.      Access control:

The MES system must have a strong authentication mechanism and granular authorization. This involves implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA), role-based access control, and least privilege access management. Integration with Active Directory (AD) is highly recommended to facilitate user management and synchronization with the existing system. In addition, it is essential to have functionalities that allow traceability of activities and access, which includes the ability to monitor and audit the actions carried out in the system. The access log should contain detailed information about who accesses the system, the changes made, as well as the login and logout times. This can be achieved through an internal access control tool or through integration with an external log management and monitoring system.

2.      Data encryption:

The protection of sensitive data is another critical aspect of MES system security. The system must implement encryption measures at different levels:

  1. Data encryption in the application: The system must use a robust encryption algorithm, such as AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), to protect data
  2. Encryption of data in transit: It is essential to use secure protocols, such as HTTPS or SSL/TLS, to encrypt data transmitted over the
  3. Key management: The system must have a secure solution for managing encryption keys, including the creation, distribution and revocation of keys.
  4. Encryption of backups: Backups must be encrypted to protect the data in
  5. Tokenization: The system must use tokens to protect sensitive data such as identification numbers
  6. Key management procedures: The system must have clear policies and procedures for managing encryption keys, including backups and access protection.

3.      Data integrity:

Verification of data integrity is essential to ensure trust in the information processed by the MES system. The system must have the ability to check the integrity of the data received and generate alerts if any alteration is detected. Some tools to achieve this include:

  1. HMAC Codes (Hash-based Message Authentication Codes): These codes use a cryptographic hash function and a secret key to generate a code that is sent along with the data. The receiver uses the same key to calculate its own HMAC and compare it with the code.
  2. Digital Signatures: Digital signatures provide a way to verify the authenticity and integrity of documents.
  3. Checksums: Used to detect unwanted changes in data by comparing checksums generated before and after transmission.
  4. Data quality: The MES system can validate input data by comparing it to patterns learned during the normal process operating cycle.
  5. Any other mechanism to verify the integrity of the data must be duly studied and authorized prior to its application by the security team.

4.      Backups:

The backup and backup strategy is essential to ensure operational continuity and data preservation in an MES system. It is necessary to establish regular procedures for creating backup copies of data and system configuration. Additionally, periodic tests should be performed to verify the integrity of backups. It is advisable to have an incident response plan that allows you to quickly restore the system in the event of unexpected failures. You should also consider storing backups in multiple locations to mitigate the risk of loss.

5.      Network security:

Since the MES system is critical to the operation of the factory, it is essential to ensure the security of the network on which it operates. This involves using secure network protocols, such as HTTPS, SSH, or SFTP, for secure communications.

Additionally, access should be restricted to the minimum necessary ports and the others closed to reduce the surface exposed to possible attacks. It is recommended that the MES system be on its own network segment and VLAN, isolated from other devices. This allows greater protection and control of communications, allowing only the connections necessary for the proper functioning of the system, all managed by a firewall.

6.      Vulnerability management:

The company providing the MES software must demonstrate an ongoing commitment to security. This involves maintaining security checks on the code and providing updates and improvements through service contracts. If the provider does not offer these guarantees, permission must be obtained to perform security audits on the system code. It is essential to evaluate and mitigate any identified vulnerabilities to maintain the integrity and security of the MES system.

7.      Threat detection and monitoring system:

An important aspect of MES system security is the ability to monitor and detect potential threats. Specific alerts and notifications need to be set up for suspicious activities or unauthorized access attempts. This can be achieved through an internal MES system tool or through integration with an external event management system. Constant monitoring and rapid response to threats are critical to maintaining system security.

8.      Regulatory and standards compliance:

To ensure the security of the MES system, it is essential that it comply with industry-specific regulations and security standards is essential to protect production operations. Regulatory compliance involves ensuring that the MES system complies with established regulations and legal requirements, such as personal data protection and information security. On the other hand, standards provide guidelines and best practices for implementing effective security measures. Following relevant standards helps establish a solid security foundation, promoting system interoperability and reliability. As an example of regulations, some common regulations include the FDA32 (United States Food and Drug Administration) or the CER Directive (Critical Entities Resilience Directive in the European Union) or Law 8/2011 (also known as the National Security in Spain) while some common standards include IEC62443 (security of industrial automation and control systems) and NIST SP 800-82 (industrial systems security guide).

9.      Third Party Security:

When selecting a vendor for your MES system, it is critical to evaluate the security practices they have in place. This includes ensuring that the seller adequately protects its systems and data, as well as customer data. Security policies and information protection mechanisms must be reviewed to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of data at all times.

10. Security in integration with the ERP:

The MES system must allow integration with the corporate ERP system in real time and asynchronously either through an API or middleware that guarantees the secure transfer of data. It is important to carry out a thorough review of the software used for the integration, carrying out security evaluations that guarantee compliance with current regulations and standards. Real-time integration capabilities will enable the MES to maintain proper synchronization of key data to the production environment ensuring that information shared between the MES and ERP is consistent at all times.

Additionally, the asynchronous integration capability allows us to guarantee continuity of operations by giving the MES system the ability to store the data necessary to operate independently if communication with the ERP is lost.


AuthorRaúl Montalvo Martín

(Black Level Professional Credential from CCI)