In the realm of digital transformation, digital twins have emerged as a tool with a profound impact. Digital twins are virtual representations of physical products, processes, or assets that mirror their real-world counterparts in real-time. By utilizing digital twins, businesses can easily make informed decisions, process optimization, reduced downtime, improved decision, process optimization, minimize downtime, provide better customer experiences, and stay competitive in a rapidly changing environment. As digital twins are valuable IP assets of enterprises, an unintended and unauthorized access could grant hackers the ability to not only access the digital twin itself but also conduct penetration testing prior attacking the corresponding physical system. Therefore, to mitigate digital twin security risks, it is necessary for enterprises to extending PLM security to protect digital twin at all times.

Major Forces Behind the Adoption of Extended PLM Security

The Benefits of Business Collaboration

Collaboration is a fundamental necessity for successful businesses, compelling them to foster a culture of interconnectedness, knowledge sharing, possible reduction in cost and improvement in customer satisfaction and loyalty. Sharing critical planning and manufacturing data across a global and multi-level supply chain is beneficial for optimizing operations, enhancing product development, and driving innovation. To have effective and secure partnerships among supply chain teams, organizations need to prioritize the protection of their business information and virtual product representations with robust security measures. As a result, data-driven businesses can feel at ease to collaborate in the multi-level supply chain process while harnessing the power of collective insights, streamlining processes, and accelerating product development to meet ever-changing market demands.

The Sharing Versus Protecting Dilemma

Another pivotal driver for extending PLM security to safeguard digital twins is the organization’s need to share information and protect it in the modern business landscape. Across industries, companies are required to share and make information available to the global workforce and business partners. It is an essential aspect of conducting sustainable business nowadays. However, with the increasing complexity of supply chain partnerships and the rise of cyber threats, the more data companies share internally and externally with each other, the more risks of data breach and leakage that companies might experience during the collaboration. Due to this concern, companies need to utilize more comprehensive data security measures to balance their need of sharing sensitive intellectual property with supply chain partners, other business partners, and customers while ensuring stringent data protection to prevent data breaches and misuse.

The Complexities in Navigating Extended Sharing

Across the global supply chains, product data assets need to be shared with suppliers and outsourced manufacturing partners so that they may design, develop, test, and manufacture to produce quality products cost-effectively. Additionally, during the collaboration, suppliers may also need to modify the information to fit into their processes and share this information with their teams to discuss and collect different perspectives in meetings. While the extended sharing of business and product information in the collaboration process is unavoidable, the complexities of it introduce potential vulnerabilities sparking unauthorized access, misuse, and leak of data. As business and product information extends beyond the original source, using robust PLM security in business collaboration is essential to safeguard digital twins from potential cyber threats throughout their lifecycle.

Data-Centric Approaches to Enhance PLM Security

As the business environment gets more complex and competitive, the need for robust data protection and privacy measures has become more essential than ever to help companies avoid possible leaks and loss of their valuable information. To address the security concern that might happen in the global supply chain collaboration, enterprises should consider extending their PLM security with more powerful data-centric approaches to encompass the broader ecosystem of digital twins and secure a productive and guarded collaboration across all the product lifecycle stages.

Persistent Data Protection with Digital Rights Management

Digital Rights Management (DRM) addresses data protection needs of businesses to collaborate and share confidential information across internal and external stakeholders. With DRM technology, companies can securely create, view, modify, and distribute enterprise information and digital twins’ data in the multi-level supply chains. Specifically, DRM efficiently protect business critical information from unauthorized access and usage activities by applying policies to the electronic document to selectively prevent recipients from specific activities. Policies can be updated or revoked even if the document has been distributing outside the companies. Through this, DRM enables administrators to safeguard intellectual property (IP) from data leakage or theft, automatically extending PLM security to digital twin’s files downloaded and shared from cloud collaboration platforms or exported from a business application to persistently protects sensitive business information and product data regardless of their location or movement within the supply chain ecosystem.

Document Access and Usage Controls with ABAC

Applying the right protection policies in real-time to control access and usage across all applications and file types is paramount for businesses to secure critical information during the supply chain collaboration. Attribute-based access control (ABAC) is an access control method that allows enterprises to enable access based on who users are rather than what they do. Specifically, controls are based on attributes or characteristics of the user, the data, or the environment, such as group, department, employee, device type, IP address, or any other factors which potentially impact the authorization outcome. These attributes can also be obtained from various sources such as PLM systems, customer information from databases, or a supply chain partner. Using ABAC to ensure fine grained access control in PLM software can ensure least privilege access, ensuring only authorized users can access the digital twins, thus mitigating the risk of data leakage.

Centralized Audit Trails and Report Data Compromise

Conducting regular security audits and assessments in PLM security is crucial to facilitate a safe and private supply chain collaboration. This level of control can help enterprises proactively identify potential vulnerabilities and abnormal patterns of behavior in digital twins during all complex product lifecycle stages. Anomalies, such as unauthorized access attempts or suspicious behavior, can be tracked, prevented, and reported through a preventative policy governance platform that provides automated monitoring and audit logs. With timely tracking and reporting of unauthorized access attempts and suspicious activities, organizations can stay ahead of new and emerging threats, safeguarding digital twins and other critical data at every stage of the supply chain collaboration.

To learn more about extending PLM security to protect business-critical information and product data assets, please check out our videos.