Search Icon White

Standards Spotlight

Views of Real-World Impact

ANSI shines a spotlight on Standards in action as they support safety, efficiency and well-being in interesting aspects of everyday life.

Closeup of a 3D printing machine with a rainbow color tint.

NIST Study Demonstrates the Capability of Digital Twins to Mitigate Cyberattacks in Manufacturing


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently completed a study on the use of digital twins to protect manufacturing equipment from cybersecurity threats.

Digital twins—virtual copies of physical objects—can run in tandem with machinery and provide operational data about what is happening inside the machine, without necessitating humans to be on the factory floor and put the performance and safety of the process at risk. Researchers from NIST and the University of Michigan demonstrated that this data can be analyzed to indicate potential cyberattacks. Programs trained with machine learning receive the data and flag any anomalies—for example, a change in temperature or output. Another program further analyzes these occurrences to determine whether they are routine system anomalies (for example, a nearby fan causing a drop in temperature) or indicative of a cyberattack. If data cannot be dismissed as a routine anomaly, a human expert is then alerted to the situation.

“Because manufacturing processes produce such rich data sets—temperature, voltage, current—and they are so repetitive, there are opportunities to detect anomalies that stick out, including cyberattacks,” said Dawn Tilbury, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan and study co-author.

A paper detailing the study was published in IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering.

Standards provide vital contributions to the development of digital twin technology and the use of these systems to support the automotive and aerospace industries, healthcare, and manufacturing. IPC 2551-2020, International Standard for Digital Twins, stipulates and defines digital twin properties, types, complexities, and readiness levels. Part of the IPC Factory of the Future standards series, it was developed by IPC, a member and accredited standards developer of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). IPC also provides information on digital twins in their report, The Evolution of Factories of the Future.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) also guides digital twins in ISO 23247:

  • ISO 23247-1:2021, Automation Systems and Integration - Digital Twin Framework for Manufacturing - Part 1: Overview and General Principles
  • ISO 23247-2:2021, Automation Systems and Integration - Digital Twin Framework for Manufacturing - Part 2: Reference Architecture
  • ISO 23247-3:2021, Automation Systems and Integration - Digital Twin Framework for Manufacturing - Part 3: Digital Representation of Manufacturing Elements
  • ISO 23247-4:2021, Automation Systems and Integration - Digital Twin Framework for Manufacturing - Part 4: Information Exchange

This standard was developed by ISO Technical Committee (TC) 184, Automation Systems and Integration, Subcommittee (SC) 4, Industrial Data. The U.S. holds the secretariat to this SC, and ANSI has delegated these duties to the U.S. Department of Defense. The Electronic Commerce Code Management Association (ECCMA) administers the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to TC 184 and SC 4.

Read more in the NIST article: “How Digital Twins Could Protect Manufacturers From Cyberattacks