Digital Twin Tool for Cybersecurity

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Siemens will develop a digital twin tool that enables manufacturers to run cybersecurity tests on virtual replicas of the physical machines and networks on their factory floor.


The techniques used to assess the cybersecurity of enterprise networks are not always practical when it comes to assessing manufacturing floor networks and equipment. Unlike corporate networks, factory floor networks typically consist of personal computers and Industrial Control Systems, or ICSs. There’s an urgent need to evaluate how sophisticated cyber attacks can compromise equipment connected to ICSs. Manufacturing networks with Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition devices — which directly interact with equipment sensors, valves, pumps and motors — are often insecure, making them desirable targets for cyber attackers.

Proposed Solution

The UNC-Charlotte and Siemens team will use commercially available modeling software to develop a Manufacturing Equipment Digital Twin. This digital twin will be an exact virtual replica of a physical piece of manufacturing equipment. The team will integrate this digital twin with a previously developed Cyber-Physical Emulation Test Range and subject it to malicious traffic and other simulated attacks. This will allow for real-time evaluation of the equipment’s performance under various cybersecurity scenarios — while keeping everything safely separate in the virtual world.


Cyber criminals can cause intentional deviations and defects in parts by hacking into the equipment that makes them. The Manufacturing Equipment Digital Twin tool developed by the UNC Charlotte/Siemens team will enable manufacturers to safely perform cyber attack scenarios in the virtual world, without the risk of damaging the physical equipment or taking it out of production.