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INSIGHTS

What new technologies can help protect upcoming semiconductor plants?

What new technologies can help protect upcoming semiconductor plants?
The unprecedented shortage of semiconductor chips after COVID-19 has prompted many countries to think of setting up their own chip manufacturing plants.
The unprecedented shortage of semiconductor chips after COVID-19 has prompted many countries to think of setting up their own chip manufacturing plants. The manufacturing sector has its own unique requirements when it comes to securing its assets and people.
 
While most of these may remain the same for semiconductor manufacturing, the high value of material, especially intellectual property, might necessitate certain unique steps. This brings up the possibility of using certain new technologies like drones and cloud-based solutions to offer more robust protection.

Drones for physical security

Drones are yet to be deployed widely across manufacturing sites. But they offer certain obvious applications to combat common challenges, such as reducing the burden on security officers to carry out patrols and providing operations managers with asset monitoring.
 
At the same time, there’s an opportunity to move small inventory across large-scale facilities at greater speed, but this would need to be balanced against the risk to health and safety, particularly in human-intensive production environments.
 
“Drones also could provide wide-area situational awareness to determine threat levels and response by giving key decision makers eyes on intelligence,” said Jason Burrows, Sales Director at IDIS America. When linked to perimeter sensors at larger and high-security manufacturing facilities, they could also support security teams in identifying and verifying breaches. However, many of today’s perimeter intrusion detection systems already provide this capability with the added benefit of AI-powered video analytics.”
 
At the same time, deploying drones can provide a simple UAV countermeasure to prevent espionage and Wi-Fi spoofing at sensitive locations, such as semiconductor and pharmaceutical facilities and other manufacturing involved in R&D or those that use proprietary manufacturing processes.

Cloud-based physical security solutions 

The use of the cloud depends on the nature of the site, but certainly, many manufacturing sites are reluctant to use cloud-based video storage as it comes at a high cost in terms of both storage and bandwidth. It also requires a consistent and reliable internet connection which isn’t always possible across large or dispersed sites.
 
“For semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, and other production sites that are critical to national supply chains, cybersecurity is still a huge concern,” Burrows said. “Intellectual property theft is a constant threat to manufacturing companies. Many have trade secrets and other types of sensitive information which could be accessed and shared by exploiting the weaknesses of video stored in the cloud, such as remote backdoors. A case in point is the reported cloud surveillance breach that saw hackers gain access to over 150,000 cameras at facilities across the globe.”
 
Because it’s on the internet, a cloud-based system tends to be more exposed than an on-site system. In addition, it’s often unclear where cybersecurity responsibilities for customers end and the cloud providers begin, which can lead to misconfigurations and other potential security gaps for attackers to exploit. As a result, many manufacturers today still prefer to manage and take responsibility for video data security using on-prem storage.
 
“To reduce the impact on critical manufacturing by cyber-attacks or terrorism, U.S. President Biden called for a review of America’s supply chains for semiconductors in 2021,” Burrows continued. “This has since led to the publication of SEMI E187 for the Specification for Cybersecurity of Fab Equipment which encompasses security equipment in terms of endpoint protection.”
 
This also makes manufacturers think twice before putting surveillance not just in the cloud but on their networks which will often be connected to SCADA and other operational systems. As a result, security solution providers are seeing continued demand for separate VLANs as well as on-prem storage with the cloud considered as a backup and often handled by a secure, remote monitoring partner.

Potential business opportunity for integrators

The increased interest in semiconductor manufacturing opens up a new area of opportunity for security systems integrators.
 
“The biggest boost we’re seeing is the remote monitoring opportunities, but it’s important that integrators and monitoring firms can offer a customized service to support a diverse range of manufacturing sites,” Burrows said. “With more powerful video capabilities such as AI-powered analytics, they can do just that and keep costs at a competitive level, satisfying multiple, site-specific end-user priorities and providing customizable service options for sites of any size.”
 
As labor shortages, wage inflation, and energy price hikes persist, manufacturing organizations are looking to increase operational efficiency wherever they can. Many are increasingly turning to virtual guarding and customized monitoring solutions. From coffee
roasting and cannabis production to food processing, monitoring services underpin safety and production line efficiency. Manufacturing customers want video technology to focus on the wider well-being of their business operations and to reduce their liabilities and insurance costs.
 
“As AI develops further, there’s huge potential for many more new uses and benefits,” Burrows continued. “Yet already it’s making highly customized services much more affordable, with a single operator now able to oversee more sites than previously. But it’s important to recognize that there can be a big difference in the response required from one site to another – even at sites belonging to the same customer but in different locations.”
 
For example, an intruder coming into a parking lot after dark might be a threat at one location and will require rapid intervention. But for the same customer in a different state or city, that kind of incident might be a regular occurrence that is of little concern – a harmless itinerant looking for recyclables, for example.
 
“Monitoring services are also extending beyond security,” Burrows said. “HR departments, for example, are calling upon their monitoring partners to review footage of staff or contractors reported to be behaving suspiciously, such as taking extended breaks, changing their work patterns, or trying to access unauthorized areas that could present an insider threat or indicate mental health and wellbeing concerns. By relaying footage along with a report, staff can intervene before losses occur, and HR departments can support staff appropriately.”
 
Conclusion
 
Semiconductor manufacturing plants require strong security measures, but new technologies like drones and cloud-based physical security may not be the right solutions for this sector yet.
 
But systems integrators may have several opportunities to take advantage of as governments invest more to start manufacturing plants and processes. However, a clear understanding of the sector's unique requirements and the sensitive nature of the intellectual property involved i
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