Improve Your Security Hygiene


Perhaps you think cutting corners pertains to others, but not to you. You’ll get around to security tomorrow rather than today, just like you did yesterday. There’s no way to get around it: Savvy companies have to address security today and resist the temptation to put it off until tomorrow. Today is the day to formulate your security hygiene.

Security hygiene refers to the rules of thumb, not laws or regulations or formalized best practices. It is “hygiene” because it is a consistent undertaking rather than a grab-bag of commercial solutions. Security matters on the shop floor as much as it does with documents and spreadsheets, perhaps more with output predicated by input data, because shop files position molten voxels and spin bits at 10,000 rpm. It is critical to survival suddenly when novice noodling with consumer printers, for example, develops into commercial production.

Safety, once ad hoc, becomes fundamental to security. You minimize equipment breakage. You control material theft, tooling jigs, cutters and waste. You reduce fumes, burns, material toxicology, cutting chips or scaffold failures. Such safety is part of security but not the data security for data-centric production, which while physical, is also intangible. It’s applicable whether additive, subtractive, hybrid or a more traditional manufacturing method. When files lost are irreplaceable or leaking from partners to competitors, security is no longer a corner to cut with fiduciary concerns deferred from yesterday until tomorrow.

What once was a test bed is now integral to design, marketing, production and sales. The security hygiene proscribes continuity and resiliency. It is more involved than adding passwords, making backups and limiting access, although it requires such essential first steps. Backups go offsite, not necessarily to a cloud accessible to everyone, but serialized so that defects can be traced under Securities and Exchange Commission law or as a step for Food and Drug Administration 510(k) certification. If parts go into vehicles, backups sustain an insurance industry testing chain of custody. There is also a morality to protect people despite unwritten laws; consider data and process protection when others depend on digital production.

Security Concerns

Security becomes a broad category involving more than computer technology. Consider financial and legal oversight by the corporate board that may include:

• embedding contracts as a component into data templates with misuse warnings;

• filing copyrights and draft usage rights agreements;

• defining intellectual property and trade secrets;

• documenting the scales and offsets for zeroing equipment for a before-and-after state;

• incorporating knowledge from shop floor lore, like g-code conversion workarounds, into supporting documents;

• including device and connectivity configurations, mesh densities, scaffolds and anchors for quality assurance repeatability; and

• organize your data for backups, reuse and as a library.

Recognize that a transition from novice to mastering production requires security steps be mastered, too.

Suddenly, security for digital production reflects all of the following: continuity, trust, quality, compliance and brand.

Security for Digital Production

Poisoning through product tampering is historical; think Tylenol. It can also happen during the integrated cycle as early as the planning stages in digital production. It includes not only an intentional harm but also functional performance errors. Changes to technical specifications within CAD/CAE/CAM seed inherent defects into file templates. Defects found by testing or finite state analysis affect reputation, durability, performance and safety. Such audits are data, so modifications after the fact can undermine data templates, and thus production compliance. Security hygiene is suddenly about validating data used for digital work starting from design storyboards through quality control to technical support. Lack of security jeopardizes hard-won trust when it affects the well-being of the customer base.

No one size in security fits all. Commercial products are a start to prevent malware and deter hackers. However, security for digital production means more. It includes infrastructure continuity, networking protections against an always-on internet and safe communications with affiliates. No perimeter is safe, so security hygiene becomes what you add to protect lifecycle data, a process best monitored every day—and not just today based on yesterday’s guilt. You need security hygiene to breed that trust for quality and compliance that ultimately sells your brand tomorrow.


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