Two (or More) Is Better Than One: Digital Twin Tech for Cybersecurity

Throughout my lifetime, I’ve wondered on many occasions how my life would have changed had I made a different decision at a critical point — picked a different college, taken a different job or moved to another town. I’ve often wished that I could watch a movie of the different outcomes before making a decision, like in the movie “Sliding Doors”.

While technology can likely give us a simplified version of that concept, I was very intrigued when I learned about how organizations can use digital twin technology to improve business decision-making — especially when it comes to cybersecurity.

What Is Digital Twin Technology?

Digital twin technology allows you to see multiple digital representations of something. It could be a physical asset, such as a wind turbine, or a process or procedure that could have different outcomes depending on the input. The technology collects data and demonstrates the outcomes.

There are several types of digital twins. Component twins are the basic unit of digital twins. Meanwhile, asset twins are when two or more components work together to study their interaction. With system/unit twins, you create an entire system with asset twins to spot areas to improve performance. Organizations can use multiple system twins to create process twins to, in turn, create an entire production facility to judge the overall effectiveness of the process.

The technology collects extensive data about performance and outcomes. So, digital twins are very useful during the product research and design process. Organizations can also use it during manufacturing for a variety of uses. It could monitor the production systems and decide when a product reaches its end-of-life phase. People often assume digital twin tech is the same as simulations. However, digital twins can run numerous simulations instead of a single process. In addition, digital twins operate only in a virtual environment, which makes it easier to collect data.

How Digital Twin Technology Improves Cybersecurity

Although digital twins started in the manufacturing industry, more companies are now beginning to use it for cybersecurity. Why? Digital twins can run through hundreds of millions of different scenarios. While the more basic types of digital twins can technically be used for cybersecurity, system twins and process twins offer the most possibilities and use cases.

Because the artificial intelligence analyzes the different outcomes, you can see where you need to improve. Before, the only way to test out your systems in this manner was to have someone (either on your team or outsourced) try to break into your code, which is expensive and time-consuming. With threats and tools always emerging, this method meant a longer detection and response time. Digital twins allow you to both detect issues and devise an effective defense much faster.

What’s Next? 

Let’s take a look at a simplified version of getting started with digital twins. First, of course, you purchase the technology from a vendor. Then, set up your digital twins and begin running scenarios. If you are thinking of using digital twins for cybersecurity, check to see if other departments are already using it — especially if your company has a manufacturing arm.

It’s tempting to jump in head first. Instead, you should start with a small test project. From there, begin expanding your use-cases to more complex projects. The key is to fully understand what questions you are trying to answer and creating accurate twins. You also need to be sure you have enough data-driven scenarios. By using digital twin technology well, you can replicate attacks and test your protections in a real-world environment. That way, you’ll know your weaknesses before attackers find them first.

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