As technology and communication channels have evolved, the manufacturing industry faces an ever-present danger in today's world and is highly vulnerable to cyberattacks. Due to the complex and interconnected nature of the supply chain, the valuable intellectual property and the sensitive data it holds, the consequences of a successful cyberattack on a manufacturing company can be severe, leading to significant financial losses or damage to reputation. Here is a look at the top five cyber threats affecting the manufacturing industry and how you can help prevent your organization from becoming a victim.
"Manufacturing remains one of the most vulnerable industries and expectations are that it will continue to be a target for cyber-attacks."
While phishing attacks are common across all industries, they have been increasing year-over-year in the manufacturing industry. Phishing attacks come from opening a malicious email attachment or link to a spoofed website. The attachments and websites contain malware which is used to collect data either to be held for ransom or sold on the dark web. The manufacturing industry is particularly vulnerable to phishing attacks for several reasons: legacy equipment, fragmented security infrastructure, large workforces with varying levels of information technology training and if government contracts are involved it can be a prime target for threat actors. Having multiple layers of cybersecurity and making awareness training part of your company culture are ways to prevent phishing attacks.
Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts data so files, databases and applications are inaccessible. The attacker then demands ransom to provide access. Ransomware can spread quickly across a network and cause significant disruption to manufacturing operations including shutdowns in production lines, delays in product delivery and loss of revenue. Manufacturers need to implement cybersecurity best practices, 24/7 network monitoring, and cybersecurity awareness training for all employees. It is also recommended to conduct regular security assessments to be proactive against ransomware attacks.
3. Intellectual Property Theft
Since manufacturers rely heavily on their intellectual property (IP) to gain a competitive edge and develop innovative products, IP theft can have a significant impact on the industry, including loss of competitive advantage, financial loss, damage to reputation and involve legal action. Threat actors can enter a manufacturing system without being detected, steal data and leave a system before anyone even realizes they were there. Take proactive measures to protect your IP by restricting access to sensitive information and monitoring for unauthorized access or activity.
4. Supply Chain Attacks
Manufacturers rely on a complex network of suppliers, partners, and vendors to deliver raw materials, components and finished products. Cybercriminals may target these partners to gain access to a manufacturer's systems and steal sensitive data or disrupt operations. Manufacturers should be cautious with the financial, intellectual, and operational information they give to partners. It only takes one employee at a supply chain partner to respond to a phishing email and provide sensitive data. That can lead to hackers accessing private networks and stealing information. This can be prevented by conducting regular security assessments, implementing access controls, using anti-virus and anti-malware software and ensuring appropriate physical security measures.
5. IoT Security Risks
The Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming increasingly prevalent in manufacturing, with smart machines and sensors connecting to the internet to enable automation and data analytics. Manufacturers need to implement effective IoT security measures, such as using secure IoT devices, implementing network segmentation, and monitoring IoT device activity, to mitigate these risks.
Manufacturing remains one of the most vulnerable industries and expectations are that it will continue to be a target for cyber-attacks. Making an investment in cybersecurity should be part of the company culture and the business continuity plan. Surveys show that manufacturers are becoming more mindful of the evolving cybersecurity landscape which will be critical in the coming years.
Ed Cordiano is Owner and President of CMIT Solutions, a leading IT services company for small to medium-sized businesses—providing cybersecurity and network infrastructure solutions. With more than 200 CMIT offices nationwide, all locally owned, CMIT delivers a powerful combination of expertise and client service. 24/7 proactive monitoring of networks, helpdesk, email security, data protection and backup are just some of the many ways CMIT supports their clients and the growth of their businesses!