The Cyber Security Threat from Digital Twins - Brit

The use of digital twins has grown considerably in recent years

Research published by Altair in September 2022 revealed that 71% of the businesses they surveyed started investing in digital twins in the previous year. With the adoption of this technology, there has been an ongoing discussion around the level of risk digital twins could present from a cyber security perspective.


What are digital twins, and how have they been adopted in business?

At its most basic level, a digital twin is a virtual model of something that currently exists, or is intended to exist in the future. This can encompass a virtual model of a specific place or product but can also be expanded to more abstract things like systems or processes. Using a digital twin allows users to simulate a process and monitor its progress before it is deployed in the real world.

There are a few areas where this technology has allowed for modelling across different industries, including the following;

    • Predictive maintenance for manufacturing equipment
    • Real-time monitoring of supply chain operations
    • Optimisation of energy usage in buildings
    • Architects modelling of both small and large-scale building projects
    • Simulation of production processes for improved efficiency

This list merely scratches the surface of the potential application of digital twins. Still, their benefits allow for the modelling of environments that don’t exist yet, reduced downtime, improved productivity, and increased safety.

insight into digital twins*

* Reference: 1. 2.

Cyber security risks associated with digital twins

While digital twins have their benefits, they also increase vulnerability from a cyber security perspective. Having a digital version of a product or system presents a security risk with the potential for one to be exploited in a number of different ways:

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Unauthorised access

A wide range of stakeholders, including employees, contractors, and suppliers might require access to a digital twin. This can make it challenging to control access and protect against unauthorised personnel gaining visibility. Attackers can exploit weak or compromised credentials to gain access to digital twins and steal sensitive data or disrupt simulated operations.

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Malware infections

Digital twins can be infected with malware, which can compromise the integrity of the data stored in the digital twin, disrupt simulated operations, and provide attackers with access to sensitive data. Furthermore, if the integrity of the data is compromised and any business decisions are being made on this, it could lead to other issues down the line.

The insurance risk of using digital twins

While the use of digital twins has helped with accurate simulations, we can now see that it carries potential risks as outlined above. This can have implications when it comes to insurance. Tim Hodgkins from our cyber team evaluates how the insurance industry is preparing for the risk presented by the use of digital twins;

“From an insurance perspective, we would expect digital twins to be aligned with controls and processes associated with the launch of any other new application/system. This would include considering the materiality to the business, the data it holds, and the impact if the system was unavailable or compromised. Furthermore, the impact to any downstream systems or decision making should also be considered.”

Tim Hodgkins In House Cyber Underwriting Consultant

We continue to be at the forefront of understanding developing cyber risks. Whether they come from adopting digital twins or elsewhere, our cyber team has a deep knowledge of managing the shifting threat landscape.

A proactive approach moving forward

The range of initial instances where digital twins can be adopted indicates that they are here to stay. The Altair research on digital twins found that more than half of the businesses surveyed are planning on adopting digital twins within the next 1-2 years. This means that the risk potential must be continually monitored as the scope of their application is likely to become broader over time.


Speak to our brit cyber team about protection

Putting cyber security measures in place is critical to mitigate the risks associated with the use of digital twins. We are well-equipped to underwrite and address vulnerabilities presented by adopting these types of systems. If you want to find out how we can help protect you from the risks presented by the use of digital twins and other cyber threats,
get in touch with the cyber team today.