The manufacturing industry has been under attack by cybercriminals, especially as the coronavirus pandemic wrought havoc on supply chains and disrupted business processes in 2020. Incidents involving ransomware directly affecting manufacturing increased by 156% from 2019 to 2020 and malicious groups used ransomware to extract $17 million from a maker of laptops and $34 million from an electronics company.
Ransomware goes hand in hand with phishing campaigns, and a huge one targeting the COVID-19 vaccine cold chain hit 44 companies across 14 countries. These companies were key players in the vaccine distribution channel and ranged from manufacturers to transport, warehousing, and distribution.
Using these techniques and others, digital attackers can manipulate their victims in ways that allow them access to customer databases. They can then use that data as leverage to launch subsequent attacks, or even establish a foothold within existing infrastructure that can be sold to another criminal group or competitor.
The Increasing Cybersecurity Risks in the Manufacturing Sector
In past years, manufacturers were relatively isolated from cyberthreats simply because they had not yet connected their industrial control systems (ICS) to the world wide web., which was still nascent. Instead, they focused on making sure the physical processes monitored by the ICS were available, and this was done offline.
Currently, however, manufacturers have begun to digitally transform in an effort to improve their balance sheets — and remain competitive in a shifting market. They need real-time data to improve the efficiency of their physical business processes by minimizing downtime through preventative maintenance. To get this done, more manufacturers are using the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to gain visibility and insight into the function of their operational technologies (OT).
The problem with this strategy is that much of today’s OT is legacy equipment that relies on proprietary protocols to communicate. In order to be updated, they must be taken offline and that interferes with productivity, so it tends to be overlooked.
Risks Can Be Avoided When Manufacturing Businesses Invest in Cybersecurity
While it might seem like a daunting task to tackle the replacement or upgrade of decades-old legacy infrastructure, it can be the first step in overcoming the security issues currently challenging the manufacturing industry.
When manufacturing businesses invest in cybersecurity, they can secure their network and their data while increasing productivity and efficiency through the gradual procurement of leading-edge infrastructure.
To get started, consider the following:
Start with Your C-Suite
Buy-in at the top is critical. Ensure your C-Suite stakeholders understand the roles of both OT and IT and are ready to foster teamwork between these departments. Now would be the best time to choose a competent third-party managed services provider (MSP) to help you map out a strategy going forward.
Your MSP will help you take a comprehensive inventory of all devices, assessing which are most critical and which may no longer be needed. This is also the right time to develop a replacement or upgrade plan that includes the incorporation of next-generation cybersecurity protocols.
Segment Your Network
Segmenting your network can help you manage access controls for specific sectors, monitor each segment for digital threats, and ensure that if a legacy system is breached, the malicious actors can’t make inroads to other data assets.
Adopt Vulnerability Management
Vulnerability management is a proactive way to prevent the exploitation of vulnerabilities in your IT infrastructure. It involves consistent proactive maintenance, patches, and security upgrades as threats — and their solutions — evolve. Your MSP can perform continual vulnerability management without burdening your in-house IT team and with minimal disruption to business processes.
Using these solutions can help your organization stay safe from emerging cyberthreats.
Partner with Blue Technologies for Next-Gen Cybersecurity Protection
Blue Technologies has a strong cybersecurity team that can help you defend your infrastructure against malicious actors and emerging threats. Our Managed IT program will not only create a safer network environment, but it also provides assurance of compliance with current data privacy regulations.
Our certified experts remotely monitor your network around the clock, making sure any suspicious activity is noted — and stopped in its tracks. Alongside regular network health reviews and scheduled preventative maintenance, our team ensures that your infrastructure is updated with the latest security patches and software for increased data safety — and peace of mind.
Invest in cybersecurity for unbeatable ROI. Contact a Blue Technologies consultant and discover how our Managed IT program can help secure your data and ensure the kind of business continuity that drives revenue.