Top 8 Cyber Threats Facing Manufacturers
Cyber threats are an all-too-common hazard for businesses in all industries. Historically, the cyberattack threat was considered the greatest against financial institutions, retail chains and the medical sector. However, as manufacturing has become more dependent on data and technology, the threat of cyberattacks on the industry has increased.
This means that all companies operating in the manufacturing sector must be aware of the cyber threats they face, such as ransomware, spyware and adware, and must know how best to combat them. Here are the most common threats facing manufacturers today.
Phishing attacks involve tricking the recipient of an email or text message into opening a link, giving hackers an entry point into a secure network. These messages will appear to have been sent from the company itself or from a trusted partner organization. Posts will often be meticulously created, using appropriate terminology and images to appear official.
Phishing remains one of the most prevalent cybersecurity threats, accounting for 85% of threats to manufacturing companies. Once a hacker gains access to the secure network, they can go undetected and acquire the information needed to carry out the attack. This information will either be bought back from the organization or sold on the dark web.
Manufacturing companies are often more vulnerable to phishing attacks due to a long supply chain that includes many disparate organizations, providing more entry points for hackers.
2. IP theft
A manufacturer’s intellectual property (IP) is what differentiates it from its competitors. This information is therefore one of a manufacturer’s most valuable assets, and stealing it can have disastrous results. IP theft is reported as one of the costliest cyberthreats. Intellectual property theft can be done by third parties looking to steal trade secrets or other sensitive information, but it can also be done by employees or other insiders looking to make a quick buck selling the information. .
Hackers can gain access to the network through phishing or other nefarious means and then install malware that can allow them to obtain sensitive information unnoticed. Intellectual property theft can have disastrous consequences for a manufacturing company. This can allow competitors to get a head start on the development of new technologies, allowing them to compete for sales without first investing in the necessary research and development.
Cases of intellectual property theft can also be incredibly difficult to prove. Every effort should therefore be made to prevent intellectual property theft before it happens, from identifying vulnerable assets and taking steps to protect them, to training employees in threat awareness. potential.
3. Data spills
Data spills can affect businesses in all industries, including manufacturing. However, the risks presented for the manufacturing industry may be different from those associated with retail data solutions, for example. Data spills happen when sensitive data is accidentally leaked. This could be due to an email being sent to the wrong recipient or storage devices being lost or stolen.
The type of data a company stores can vary and can include everything from customer details to plans or confidential plans. If your company’s procedure is to record phone calls for compliance or quality assurance reasons, even the audio data could be at risk. To limit the occurrence of data breaches, staff should be trained in data security best practices. It’s also a good idea to use data loss prevention software.
The manufacturing sector is increasingly at risk from ransomware attacks, with 13.9% of incidents in North America over the past year involving manufacturing companies. Ransomware works by encrypting files on a network, rendering them unusable. Hackers can then demand a ransom in exchange for the decryption key, which will make the files usable again.
These attacks are so effective against the manufacturing industry because of the time constraints involved. Time is money, and manufacturers often choose to pay a ransom because the amount paid to hackers could end up being less than the losses resulting from the manufacturing delay.
The manufacturing industry is particularly susceptible to ransomware due to the extensive use of computer-aided design (CAD). Access to these files is necessary for manufacturing to continue, so rendering them unusable can be crippling for a business.
5. Supply chain attacks
Supply chain attacks occur when attackers target a company’s business partners or suppliers. This can be done through phishing or otherwise by compromising the networks of these third parties. Once an attacker has gained access to the network, they can then attack the manufacturer to steal data, plant malware, or simply disrupt the supply chain enough to halt production.
The manufacturing industry is so susceptible to these types of attacks due to the number of vulnerable endpoints present across a large number of interconnected vendors. This gives hackers multiple ways to gain access to a network and ultimately attack the manufacturer.
Additionally, since each stage of the supply chain is often dependent on other companies in the chain, an attack on one supplier can quickly cripple many other companies as well. To prevent serious attacks on supply chains, manufacturers must put in place thorough risk management and monitoring of the activities of all their suppliers.
6. Attacks on nation states
Cyber threats to manufacturing companies are not always led by competitors or independent actors. Attacks can be carried out by the governments of other nations or by threat actors employed by the governments of other nations. These attacks will often be extremely sophisticated and can have incredibly serious effects.
These attacks can be motivated by economic reasons and be used to try to destabilize the economies of foreign powers. They could also be militaristic in nature, with foreign governments attempting to bolster their own military strategies while weakening the strategies of their rivals.
When trying to achieve either of these goals, manufacturers make attractive targets, with 17.7% of nation-state attacks in 2020 occurring in the manufacturing sector. Nation-state threat actors are often incredibly well-funded and therefore equipped with sophisticated tools. They are also highly qualified. This makes these types of attacks particularly difficult to detect and prevent.
Cyberwarfare attacks by state actors have the potential to shut down key infrastructure, such as energy and transportation. They can also disrupt military contractors and, in extreme cases, the operations of entire governments.
seven. Equipment Sabotage
As businesses adopt new technologies, such as IVR phone systems, new threats need to be identified and new risks eliminated. Information technology (IT) is not the only one threatened by cyberattacks. Operational Technology (OT) can also be vulnerable.
Equipment sabotage occurs when attackers damage equipment needed for manufacturing, leading to disruption of operations. These types of attacks are made possible because operational technology is increasingly connected to modern communication systems. These machines are often only recently connected to network infrastructures and can therefore be operated without the necessary security measures to protect them from threats. This can mark them as weak points in the network.
It is possible for hackers to use these machines as entry points into a secure network, but it is also possible for them to disrupt operations by simply shutting them down or damaging them beyond repair. The destructive potential of equipment sabotage cannot be overstated. Companies must therefore do everything possible to ensure that potential machine vulnerabilities are dealt with quickly and efficiently.
8. Risks related to telework
The advent of telecommuting and better integration of software systems has allowed many employees to work from home, allowing manufacturers to benefit from a global workforce and providing greater flexibility for many employees. The number of employees working remotely has grown steadily over the past two decades, with a sharp increase in the second half of 2019.
However, this arrangement may also have negative implications for cybersecurity. Employees often use personal devices when working remotely, which can lead to difficulties when trying to create a secure network.
These devices, if not secured to the same standard as the rest of the network, can produce vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers. A breach through one of these devices, through phishing, malware or other means, can provide access to a wide range of sensitive information.
To protect against the risks arising from remote working, companies should ensure that all devices are screened before use and that device management and activity monitoring practices are in place.
Remote employees should also be well trained in security awareness, and best practices should be implemented to ensure high levels of caution are taken at all times. If you use services like eVoice as your business phone provider, you may want to consider more secure options as an alternative to eVoice.
Manufacturers are increasingly exposed to cyber threats as the industry increasingly relies on interconnected systems and stores more and more data. Measures must be taken to ensure that companies minimize the risks and impacts of cyberattacks. Great care should be taken to prevent data leaks, and employees should be properly trained in security protocols and best communication practices to reduce the chances of successful phishing and ransomware attacks.
Take precautions, stay alert, and remember that manufacturers are just as exposed to cyberattacks as any other industry.
Grace Lau is Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration.