Importance of Segmenting Your Network in Manufacturing and Logistics

There are likely many kinds of devices and many different elements that makeup the unique network infrastructure at your manufacturing, logistics, transportation or distribution (MLTD) business. You probably have many of the standard devices we see across most of our IT clients  firewalls, routers, access points, switches etc. 

Not to mention any connected devices related to your production, staging or shipping processes.  

In recent years, the MLTD industries have been heavy targets for cybercrime and cybercriminals. This has been largely attributed to the way these businesses use technology and the fact that many businesses in these industries are leaning on older systems and technologies that are specific to their business models.   

Criminals have caught onto this issue and are attacking known weak points, disrupting production, and grinding businesses to a halt.  

One important step you can take to defend against this is to segment your networks and add layers to protect the different networks of your business.  


What does it mean to segment my network?  

Essentially, all this means is separating different groups or functions at your business into different networks so that you can control them individually.  

The most common network segmentation we perform and encounter in the MLTD market is between the operations network (back office) and the production network (on ‘the floor’ of your facility) and the BYOD Network (for guests and staff devices) 


Why do I want to segment my network?

Segmenting your network helps to keep all of the appropriate activities in their appropriate lanes. For instance, you don’t want your employees surfing the web on their cell phones on the same network that your primary business functions on.  

Imagine an employee accidentally clicked a bad link and infected/shut down the whole network – you’d likely want this to happen in an area that didn’t impact the entire business. Instead, if you segment properly, the impact would be restricted to the BYOD or Guest network and your employees couldn’t use WIFI on their personal devices until you got things cleaned up.  

Now, imagine this same example hits your back office. An employee opens an email and unknowingly gets infected with ransomware. That ransomware now spreads throughout the office and all PCs are down. With proper network segmentation, you have an added layer that will help protect your production floor from being infected. With a good <<business continuity plan – Link to that other article on business continuity>> your team can work on resolving the issues in the office but the production network would not be impacted.