The world of manufacturing is becoming more and more digitised with each passing day. The use of machines, connected devices, and AI for various applications has changed the game for manufacturers forever.
However, with all these new digital solutions come new cyber risks.
Network and data security risks
One of the biggest threats to manufacturing operations is a breach in network security. If someone gets unauthorised access to your network, they could disrupt your operations, steal data, or even remotely shut down the operations of the whole manufacturing facility. This could cause significant economic damage and harm your reputation among customers and investors.
If companies rely on the cloud to store and process data, they must make sure their data is protected by multiple layers of security, such as encryption, two-factor authentication, firewalls, and access controls.
Another risk for manufacturers is losing data. In order to optimise production, manufacturing plants are increasingly adopting AI and machine learning to optimise operations. However, these systems need data to train and operate effectively.
If the data gets lost or corrupted, then the AI systems will not be able to function properly, which can seriously disrupt operations.
Intellectual property theft
In the manufacturing industry, intellectual property (IP) theft is a serious risk, especially if the manufacturer is operating in a niche market. Cyber criminals are always on the lookout for IP, as it can be sold for significant sums of money and is often used for product replication.
Manufacturers who rely on IP to gain a competitive advantage need to be aware of the risk of IP theft. Malicious actors might try to steal sensitive data such as research and development information, design plans, or customer data.
This data can be used to create counterfeit products or harm a company’s reputation by creating negative publicity, or damaging review sites.
Manufacturers can protect themselves by developing robust cyber security strategies which includes layers of protection against cyber threats. This strategy can include things such as encryption, protecting endpoints, training employees in cyber security best practices, and using cyber security tools to can help monitor and detect threats.
Supply chain attacks
The manufacturing supply chain is getting increasingly more digitised as more and more manufacturers are adopting blockchain technology. With this digitisation, though, come new security risks. Global supply chain attacks on manufacturing were one of the highest attacks in the US last year. These lead to disruptions in production process or even cause the whole supply chain to shut down.
When selecting your manufacturing partners, make sure their cyber security practices meet your standards. You should also consider investing in cyber security audits and inspections to help ensure your partners are following your security protocols.
With connected devices, the risk of supply chain hacking rises as a hacker can infiltrate systems with a single infected or misconfigured device. For example, if a supplier’s computer system is broken into and the cybercriminals have access to the manufacturer’s network, they can install software that can later be activated to attack the manufacturer’s network when no one is around.
This way, the cybercriminals can get a glimpse of what the manufacturer does, including the manufacturing drawings and computer systems. Not only could this lead to the exposure of confidential information, but it could also have a significant impact on the manufacturer’s operations if the network is shut down.
Data breaches are one of the biggest threats to businesses in general, and manufacturers are no exception. Data breaches can come in various forms, with some of the most common being cyber theft and the loss of sensitive data.
The manufacturing industry is all about data – for operations, planning, supply chain management, and much more. Data is the lifeblood of any modern manufacturer and is often very sensitive, containing customer information, financial data, intellectual property, and much more. If cyber criminals get hold of this data, they can cause all sorts of damage – from identity theft to financial fraud and beyond.
A risk mitigation strategy and data breach management plan are key to defending against and reacting quickly to data breaches, shutting down systems, and locking out unauthorised persons in the event of a data breach.
Phishing attacks are aimed at fooling users into giving up their authentication credentials, often through emails apparently sent from a trusted source. Once the malicious actors have these credentials, they can easily gain access to a business’ computer systems.
In the manufacturing industry, phishing attacks are one of the most common methods for stealing sensitive data, such as customer information and product designs. Worse yet, phishing attacks can also lead to malware infections which can cause damage to machines and critical systems.
The best defence against phishing attacks is employee training; if your users know how to spot a suspicious-looking email, the attack can be thwarted before any problems occur.
The manufacturing industry faces many challenges that make cyber security even more important. One is human error, such as an employee clicking on a malicious link or downloading malware from the internet. For example, if your employees work with sensitive data and you don’t have proper security protocols in place, that data is at risk of being leaked.
Manufacturers can mitigate these risks by investing in cyber security training and investing in cyber security, tools such as endpoint protection and web security gateways to help detect and prevent malware and other cyber threats.
Ransomware attacks are increasingly targeting businesses of all kinds, including manufacturers. Ransomware can be installed on a network by devices that have been compromised with malicious software, or installed through an email attachment or a file transfer.
While manufacturers may think that a ransomware attack isn’t that big of a deal because they can just reprogram the devices, this isn’t always an easy task. In some instances, the manufacturer may need to send an engineer to reprogram the device. This will incur additional costs, which can be avoided by implementing preventative measures.
To protect yourself from these types of attacks, adopt a cyber security strategy that includes layers of protection against cyber threats, and invest in cyber security tools such as endpoint protection, web security gateways, and endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions.
Find the right cyber security solutions
The manufacturing industry is changing rapidly, and manufacturers need to adapt to keep up with the latest technologies. But with all these new digital technologies come new risks, and you need to be prepared.
The cyber security specialists at Itopia can handle all your security needs – from ransomware detection and prevention, to device and network security, to employee cyber security training. Talk to them today and strengthen your business’ protection against cyber-attacks.