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The Increasing Importance of Cybersecurity in Manufacturing


The topic of cybersecurity in manufacturing is something most companies only give thought to when an issue arises. Experience shows, many of these attacks happened to large retail organizations that process millions of financial transactions. For business owners within the industrial and manufacturing industries this preference has offered a measure of assurance, if not security. The reason being, many hackers had little interest in tampering with the systems used in these industries.

This is now a false sense of security. A report from Kaspersky Labs, a global cybersecurity company, said that manufacturing companies account for one-third of all attacks. Kaspersky Labs cited an uptick in invasions of Operational Technology (OT), including industrial control systems (ICS) and supervisory control and data acquisition programs (SCADA). OT systems control the management of production lines, monitoring of gas and oil, and the control of other operations. During 2017, Kaspersky Labs cited attacks on ICS and SCADA, including some 18,000 different modifications of malware, according to a report in Tech Republic.

Changing Focus

Kaspersky Labs, which protects corporate systems, data and processes in public sector organizations and smaller businesses, said hackers are switching their focus. These changes could include anything from ransomware to the theft of intellectual property (IP) and most recently crypto mining, which creates a slow, yet steady, stream of stolen funds.

Hackers are constantly shifting their focus, looking for organizations with vulnerabilities such as recent targets in the industries of defense and finance as well as academia. In 2017, energy and industrial firms, petrochemical companies and manufacturing were also targets. In these cases, they chose IP theft as their weapon of choice, using the theft to gain copies of successful products or to gain competitive advantage in the marketplace. IP theft negates the valuable time and money spent on R&D, cutting into margins and competitive advantage.

Damage Control

With cyberattacks becoming an increasingly real issue, it’s critical for manufacturers to look for ways to improve all levels of security within the business. Now more than ever, manufacturers need to apply ICS and SCADA to protect systems against intentional or accidental security threats coming from inside or outside the organization.

To create a more secure environment, it’s suggested that manufacturers assess their current OT and IT processes and determine where upgrades need to be made. This will likely include adding layers of additional security throughout the organization. Ongoing and frequent assessments will help determine if a company can evolve and survive the newest hacking targets.

Secure Steps to Consider

Use intrusion detection and a firewall help protect the perimeter from an outside attack.

Secure communications through a virtual private network (VPN) and/or use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

Increase security by installing antivirus and host-based intrusion detection software.

Control security by limiting access to network elements and applications.

Protect the physical surroundings using locks and alarm monitoring systems.


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