Is Manufacturing industry a key target for Cyber attackers

By CIOReview | Monday, August 27, 2018
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Identifying vulnerabilities in the network is just the beginning of the cyber battle. While cybercriminals are trying to infiltrate networks through loopholes, cybersecurity professionals are finding new ways to counter their attacks. As the manufacturing industry is becoming better connected, the frequency and sophistication of cyber-attacks is rising. Despite knowing the impact of the cyber attacks, companies in the manufacturing sector have underestimated the scope and depth of the threat.

However, cyber attackers today are more focused on intellectual property that can bring about long term benefits which puts the manufacturing companies in their radar.

Rather than fall prey to another scam, manufacturers need to better understand the possibilities of the threats they could face. They could begin with the approach of protecting their finances from being compromised. Most of the banking transactions for majority of businesses are done online and all that hacker needs to do is to be able to get into the manufacturers’ online banking platform.

Vulnerabilities in the security framework are exploited by hackers through gaining access into various systems of sensitive data. Fraudsters wanting to access financial systems to draw money out via phishing mails or other means of social engineering are the cause of big data breaches. These companies can avoid having their sensitive information getting leaked by investing significantly in cybersecurity although the level of investment depends on the individual business.

There are two very different approaches to investing. Businesses can invest internally in their hardware, software, their IT team, human resources and have that management on site or can work with consultants, industry experts and outsource that work.

Many times, manufacturers receive a lot of confidential information that can include drawings, contracts, patents or other sensitive information from their customers, which they need to protect. This is why, robust cybersecurity protocols are adopted for the reasons of security compliance.

Although businesses have started investing in security to combat cyber criminals, it needs to be seen if these investments are really effective. As per an old adage, it’s always better to work smart than hard. The traditional mindset is that organizations should work hard to build in the perimeter defense, though it is not enough on its own to protect cyber assets.

The cyber risks faced by advanced manufacturing companies go beyond compromised bank accounts. According to industry experts, connected devices on the shop floor are the most vulnerable and may be exploited in ways not immediately noticeable.

The rapid rise of technology has set the pace for innovation which makes protecting trade secrets less important these days, according to some manufacturing executives. Protecting intellectual property is no longer a cause for concern and the focus is solely on continuing to innovate. The current mindset is that if a company continues innovating, it wouldn’t matter if the intellectual property is left unprotected as it would become obsolete once the company introduces its newest iteration.

Nevertheless, invaluable intellectual property needs to be shielded because those platform innovations will continue to have iterative improvement made to them in subsequent years and compromising on that foundational innovation may put at risk those iterative product developments.

When it comes to your business, there are things that you need and things that you want. Creating a manageable IT structure brings it down to the bare essentials. However, with cybersecurity more is always better and in the case of intellectual property, additional security is essential.

Although, there are different types of cybersecurity solutions, some of them can help in protecting intellectual property. Authentication is important for controlling and identifying user roles and by limiting and tracking employee access; one can ensure that malicious users don’t gain access to the systems. Data encryption is another way as encrypted data means protected data. Even if it’s stolen, it cannot be accessed. Firewalls and antivirus solutions can protect the network and the computer systems respectively from potential threats and malicious actions. At times, it might so happen that a security solution is a combination of two or more solutions. Unified threat management is an umbrella term encompassing several cybersecurity solutions in a single resource that identifies and annihilates threats as they come in. Web filtering services can be effectively used to counter data breaches by providing an extra layer of security and hence protect employees from accidentally accessing potentially harmful websites.

Manufacturing is the third most targeted industry for cyber attacks as per reports testifying the same. Also, a large number of these attacks go unreported as the manufacturing sector is not under the same obligation to report breaches as the healthcare, financial services, and the retail industries. Cybersecurity training should be made mandatory for employees as the attackers perceive manufacturers to be weak and hence, frequently target the sector. The training coupled with effective cybersecurity implementation by organizations can help them thwart cyber attacks.