How Can Manufacturers Manage Cybersecurity Risks?

How Can Manufacturers Manage Cybersecurity Risks?

Cybercrime is on the rise. Global cybercrime damage is projected to hit $10.5 trillion annually by 2025 and manufacturers are often in the crosshairs of cybercriminal activity.

Both the data manufacturers collect and a vulnerability to ransomware attacks make the manufacturing sector a tempting target for hackers. Because attacks are projected to become more common, information security and cybersecurity will be a necessary investment for manufacturers.

Fortunately, the right practices can help manufacturers manage cybersecurity risks.

The Growing Cyber Threat to Manufacturers

Over the past few years, cyberattacks targeting manufacturers have risen steadily. Since 2020, however, experts have seen explosive growth in cybercriminal activity targeting the sector.

According to IBM, the manufacturing sector actually saw the brunt of all cyberattacks in 2021, as hackers attempted to fracture the backbone of the global supply chain with attacks on manufacturers.

The growing value of manufacturing data and the importance of manufacturers to global logistics likely encouraged these attacks. The pivot to remote work, the adoption of remote monitoring solutions, and ongoing COVID-19-related disruptions may also be encouraging hackers to target the manufacturing sector, according to groups like the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Manufacturers are likely more vulnerable than ever to cyberattacks right now. Without investment in cybersecurity, many businesses in the manufacturing sector could be left wide open to phishing attacks, ransomware, and malware.

How Manufacturers Can Manage Cybersecurity Risks

While each manufacturer faces its own security situation, a few of the same best practices will likely be useful for manufacturers to manage cyber security risks.

End-to-end security monitoring, for example, is probably one of the most valuable investments a manufacturer can make right now. Building an end-to-end security technology stack with the right solutions will help any manufacturer prepare their network for attacks.

Cyber threat intelligence, security monitoring platforms, identity and access management solutions, or other end-to-end security tools will help manufacturers detect and contain network activities, allowing them to catch attacks or network intrusions before they become serious threats.

In addition to implementing universal security best practices, manufacturers can also take advantage of tools and techniques that are particularly useful for securing manufacturing networks.

Security automation will be useful for most manufacturers. Automated incident-reporting tools, for example, can streamline the process of detecting and containing irregular network activity. For businesses that have struggled with hiring enough cybersecurity or IT workers to support their security needs, these tools can make cybersecurity workloads more manageable.

These automated security tools will be most useful if manufacturers can improve the visibility of their network and networked systems.

Many manufacturers are investing heavily in automation, IoT, and IT/OT integration right now. Connecting operational technology to the internet with these technologies can yield significant benefits, but also makes additional systems vulnerable to attack.

It’s also important that manufacturers keep track of all the data they collect. If manufacturers do not keep good records of the assets they store in the cloud, for example, these assets will be impossible to protect.

With strong network visibility and good documentation, manufacturers will develop a better sense of the assets they need to protect. Knowing which systems are most vulnerable will make it easier to protect these assets, as well as protect data when it is in the cloud or being transferred between networks.

Developing New, More Secure Cybersecurity Policies

Along with new cybersecurity tools and solutions, manufacturers will also need to develop new policies that help employees secure their devices and keep the business’s network safe from attacks.

Security training will also be essential for manufacturers. Many successful ransomware attacks begin with a phish – and manufacturers can be particularly vulnerable to phishing attacks.

Employees with network access are convinced to download malicious files or hand over access credentials by an email that appears to be from a legitimate source. In most cases, these attacks can be prevented with the right training.

If employees know how to identify a phish, they can report potential threats to the business’s IT and cybersecurity teams, helping them to head off an attack. Because all employees, regardless of background, role, or skillset, can be targeted by a phish, company-wide cybersecurity training will be key.

Other Strategies for Managing Cyber Risk

In addition to investing in cybersecurity, manufacturers can also take advantage of other cybersecurity risk management tools – like cyber insurance.

According to an analysis from Fitch Ratings, “cyber insurance is the fastest-growing product segment in the U.S. property/casualty (P/C) insurance market.” The sharp rise in cyber incidents has driven the industry’s growth, meaning there are more products available than ever for manufacturers that want to insure themselves against cyber attacks.

In the event of a successful attack, breach, or other incident, cyber insurance will help manufacturers offset damages and other costs. For manufacturers that hold onto large amounts of valuable data, this insurance can help make cyber risks more manageable.

Manufacturers Must Respond to New Cyber Threats

Experts believe that cybercrime is likely to continue rising in the near future and that the manufacturing sector may be more frequently targeted than other industries. Manufacturers should prepare now to defend their networks – if they haven’t begun investing in cybersecurity solutions and training already.

A combination of good policy and a robust technology stack will help manufacturers keep their data and networks safe. Training, in particular, will help manufacturers prepare their employees for the rising frequency of cyberattacks and help manufacturers manage cybersecurity threats.

Emily Newton

Emily Newton

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine that explores innovations in science and technology.