Cyber risks to manufacturing

Biggest Risks to the Manufacturing Industry

It’s no secret that cyber attacks have become more and more prolific in the past two years with bad actors targeting critical infrastructure and global supply lines that move and supply products for millions of civilians around the world. The bad news is that it doesn’t look like this trend will be decreasing in the near future as the manufacturing industry has quickly become the most targeted industry for cyber attacks. In fact, in 2021 the manufacturing industry took the brunt of cyber attacks with 28% of all attacks originating from the industry making manufacturing the number one targeted industry above even finance and insurance. Because of these sobering statistics it is important that all manufacturing organizations understand the biggest risks to manufacturing industry and their companies plus what they can do to protect themselves.

What do Cyber Criminals Want?

What do cyber criminals want from manufacturers? Like most bad actors the most valuable resource is information. Types of data manufacturers may have in their possession include confidential data with business partners, sensitive information for employees or contractors, or intellectual property and proprietary schematics for machinery or tools. Because the manufacturing industry is so diverse and works in tandem with multiple other industries its possible for cyber criminals to use your organization as a foothold into other organizations. This means that your only responsibility isn’t only to your own business but to your clients and partners.

What Are the Biggest Risks?

The biggest risk your organizations faces is ransomware, a particularly malicious form of malware that can completely shut down your business in one fell swoop. Ransomware refers to a tactic cyber criminals use in order to breach your network and steal private or sensitive data. Once inside your network, hackers will seek out important data then encrypt it, so you no longer have access. Once this happens your only hope of reclaiming those assets is to pay a hefty price to the criminals. These attacks are primarily distributed through phishing emails or other social engineering tactics and can prove extremely detrimental to business operations. If these hackers are able to gain access to Operational technology controls, they can shut down the machinery you need to keep your business running.

Ransomware accounted for 30% of all North American cyber-attacks in 2021. Seeing that manufacturers are already the most targeted it’s not a matter of if, but when your organization is attacked by these cyber criminals.

Social Engineering

It is often said that the weakest link within your organization are your employees. The easiest way for hackers to breach your network is to trick an employee into giving them the keys. This is accomplished through social engineering, a form of psychological manipulation that involved tricking employees into voluntarily giving up sensitive data, login credentials, or other pieces of information that could be used against you. Social engineering will often come in the form of phishing emails or websites designed to trick people into thinking these hackers are trustworthy people or fellow employees. Once someone clicks on a malicious link or gives up too much information it’s game over. No number of technical controls can fully protect your employees from phycological manipulation. This is why security awareness training is integral to promoting a secure work culture.

Insider Threats

In the same vein as social engineering, insider threats, as the name implies, originate from within your organization. This could encompass social engineering or something more malicious. While it sounds like something straight out of Hollywood, disgruntled employees may be in a position to wreak havoc on your organization given enough access. Let’s say you’ve just let go an employee, but haven’t fully restricted their access to the network, it is fully possible that this could be used against you and your business. Additionally, it’s important to monitor employee access to the network to look for suspicious logins or stranger hours worked. If an employee is accessing the network in the middle of the night, it is worth monitoring in the case that they are an inside threat. While cultivating trust among your staff is essential to a healthy work environment it’s important to understand that insider threats are very real and very dangerous.

Supply Chain Attacks

Another risk to the manufacturing industry is supply chain attacks. As the world becomes more interconnected through supply chains, criminals will seek to turn a profit through disrupting them. One of the biggest examples of this includes the recent Colonial Pipeline attack which led to a nationwide gas shortage. Unfortunately, manufacturers are right at the center of these attacks. It’s not enough to make sure that your organization is secure, but to ensure the vendors and partners you work with are equally committed to security. Securing every stop on the global supply chain is the only way that your organization will be able to effectively do its job in providing valuable products to people around the world.

While these risks are by no means all-encompassing, they represent some of the largest risks you’re manufacturing business may face in the upcoming years. If you feel as if your organization isn’t as secure as you’d like, look no further than CorpInfoTech.

CorpInfoTech (Corporate Information Technologies) provides small to mid-market organizations with expert I.T. services including compliance assessment, cybersecurity penetration tests, and comprehensive business continuity planning services. Corporate Information Technologies can help organizations, quantify, create, refine, and mitigate the risks presented by business threatening disasters in whatever form they may be disguised.

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