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FL mGuard by Phoenix Contact | How to Establish & Secure a Remote Network

Graham Zimmerman
Posted by Graham Zimmerman on Sep 30, 2021 10:00:00 AM

With IIoT technologies growing exponentially, real-time and remote system communication is easier and more affordable than ever. Live data collection, remote servicing, and complete system monitoring - HUGE benefits that were once difficult to acquire - are now easily within reach with modern-day systems and components. What a time to be alive! This is amazing, right?

Well, with many rewards comes risk. If you're reading the news, it seems every week there's a new data breach that negatively impacts consumers and tarnishes the business' reputation, It's scary to think our own industrial networks are vulnerable, and though I'm not here to spook you (although we're approaching Halloween! 👻), it's more important than ever to stay ahead and informed about cybersecurity.

So keep reading and we'll jump into what exactly is at stake, and how we can protect our remote systems using one of my favorite products, the FL mGuard, by Phoenix Contact.

 

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📶 You're connected, but are you protected?

✔️ Introducing the FL mGuard


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7-tips-to-make-your-home-Wi-Fi-more-secure

You're connected   But are you protected? 

The benefits of remote networks are all there, but unfortunately, they can extend to cyber criminals too.

As quickly as industrial networking has advanced, it's sad to say that overall, industrial cybersecurity hasn't caught up to pace.


By and large, organizations are underprepared for the digital convergence of their information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) environments.
These "smart" devices come fully connected and enabled, but usually without any protection.
An entire network is only as strong as its weakest entry point. This, unfortunately, makes unprotected "smart devices," like smart alarms, TVs, fridges, and industrial components, an easy target for criminals to gain access to your entire network.

And when it comes to cybersecurity, the stakes are high. Hackers can interfere with networks, access monetary and personal information, and even completely lock you out of your network with ransomware, all leading to damaged or lost assets, facility downtime, monetary loss, reputation assassination, and many more jarring realities. Worse, hackers are attacking businesses of all sizes worldwide. No matter how big or small, no entity is off-limits.

That’s why, as much as it's easier to pretend the threat doesn't exist 🙈, network security is essential when it comes to protecting your business and reputation. So now I'm going to switch gears and tell you about a great solution that I've recommended for many clients interested in securely kickstarting their industrial networks.

 

Introducing the mGuard

mguard


WHAT IS IT?

Phoenix Contact's mGuard is a ☁️cloud-based VPN router that offers built-in security to your industrial network. The mGuard utilizes the Phoenix Contact Secure Cloud, which offers operators and machine builders a highly secure, web-based method for instant remote services to any machine and production plant within a client's network.

The mGuard secure cloud is a free, professionally hosted, turnkey remote-services ecosystem for both the machine builder and the plant operator. Using a standard web browser, service personnel can connect to the Secure Cloud website and, after successfully authenticating, access all relevant client information: locations, operators, service targets (machines), users, as well as their access rights. This free service allows the user to access and troubleshoot remote locations and customer machines in just a few clicks.

HOW IS IT SECURE? 🔒

The mGuard VPN technology uses the IPsec security protocol with strong encryption. This guarantees the confidentiality, authenticity, and integrity of all information and data transmitted between the service staff and the machines.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The Phoenix Contact mGuard combines three main functions into a single piece of hardware:

1. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Simple and secure remote connectivity you can use for data acquisition, support, diagnostics, control, and firmware upgrades with your industrial machines. Remote connectivity benefits machine builders, providing efficient and economical support for their customers located anywhere in the world. 

Provides secure remote connectivity between sites via IPsec VPN

Ideal for machine/system commissioning, monitoring, and troubleshooting by parties (i.e., machine builder, contractors, etc.) outside the network

Encrypted data transmission


2. Stateful Firewall

With the mGuard, prevent cyber threats, attacks, and unauthorized access to your industrial and business networks. With the stateful firewall, protect one or many devices at a time. With this firewall, the only communications allowed will be the rules you set up using web-based management. 

Drop-in Industrial network protection

Configurable stateful inspection firewall with the full scope of functions

Assured network security preventing unauthorized access and hacks

Isolates the production environment from the office environment

Configuration is web-based and requires no software

Complete setup with or without assistance from IT


3. Router

With the mGuard, you can insulate and isolate your control networks from business networks, preventing entire system crashes and increasing production and quality control. Also, with NAT 1:1 Functionality for IP address translation, anyone with large control networks benefits from segmenting traffic via routing. This feature is an excellent way to protect your networks and simplifies administration and maintenance. 

Allows traffic segmentation on large networks

NAT 1:1 Functionality for IP address translation in between the network

Facilitates are more secure and simplified traffic management on large networks.


All mGuard features can be used a la carte, independent of one another, or combined.
Whether capturing sensor data, communicating machine-to-machine (M2M), or computing over the cloud, companies can now utilize the collected data for predictive analytics that prevent downtime while increasing production and quality control.

 


WHAT'S THE SETUP LIKE?


In summary, it's a piece of cake! Learn how to set up your mGuard with remote connectivity with my full
 tutorial here

 

 

Summary

The mGuard is a potent tool for identifying and solving complex problems remotely, providing program updates, and commissioning new equipment in the ever-growing Industrial Ethernet world. In addition, the mGuard is an excellent way for users and machine builders to provide simple, secure, 24/7 support to end customers without expensive downtime, cost, or travel. If you're looking to start reaping the benefits of remote connectivity in a secure way, it's definitely worth considering.

Resources & Contact Information

 

Topics: Automation, Product Spotlights, IoT, Phoenix Contact

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