Cybersecurity for the Manufacturing Industry, What You Need to Know Now

Elise Silagy

April 6, 2020

The number of cyberattacks continues to rise every year, and industries that have traditionally been insulated are now more likely to be targeted than they were in the past. As smaller manufacturers aim to stay competitive, many are moving away from analog processes and going digital. While this can be a great way to increase productivity, it can also leave unprepared businesses vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Fortunately, there are a few things businesses can do to help improve their cybersecurity posture. This can include working with experts to evaluate their current defenses, addressing potential vulnerabilities, and investing in employee training.

Is the Manufacturing Industry at Risk?

According to the United States Department of Homeland Security, based on the number of reported cyber attacks, the manufacturing industry is the second most frequently targeted industry in the United States.

Why is the Manufacturing Industry Being Targeted?

Smaller manufacturers are more likely to be targeted than their larger counterparts because cybercriminals often view them as easy entry points into larger manufacturing chains.
Unfortunately, there is still a common perception in the small business community that smaller organizations are too small to be targeted when, in fact, these businesses should be extra vigilant.

What Can I Do to Protect My Business?

Cybersecurity for the Manufacturing Industry, What You Need to Know Now
There are a few steps you can take to improve your current security posture so you can fend off attacks. However, even the best cybersecurity defenses aren’t completely protected from vulnerabilities, so you should also have protocols in place so that all stakeholders (including management and employees) know how to respond if an incident occurs.

Evaluate Your Current Defenses

Before you can improve your current defense systems, you need to know what your current shortcomings are. A full audit can help you catalog your current defenses, but if you really want to figure out where your weak spots are, you may want to consider a pen test.
A pen (penetration) test involves hiring an ethical hacker to stress test your current defenses. They target your current defenses in an effort to break in and take detailed notes about what strategies they tried and how effective they were. Once the test is done, the ethical hacker sits down with you to review their findings and make suggestions.

Address Potential Vulnerabilities

Now that you know where your potential weak spots are, you can take steps to address them. Most small and medium-sized manufacturers don’t have the resources to support full-time in-house cybersecurity teams, which is why more businesses are choosing to outsource their cybersecurity.
By choosing to work with a cybersecurity company, you can enjoy 24/7/365 monitoring and support. Your cybersecurity experts can help you audit your current defenses, address potential vulnerabilities, create robust yet tailored incident response plans, and help with employee training.

Create Robust Incident Response Plans

It’s always good to have a backup plan. When it comes to cybersecurity, you should always have detailed, robust, and flexible incident response plans in place in case of a cybersecurity attack. These plans should cover potential incidents, identify how a potential threat is detected, and make sure every key player understands their role.

Keep Your Software Up to Date

Keeping your software up to date is one of the easiest steps you can take to help safeguard your company’s digital assets. Whenever a software company discovers a bug or vulnerability in their product, they release patches to fix the issue. However, companies can only take advantage of patches if they update their software.
Unpatched software is particularly vulnerable because software companies announce the patches, and the bugs or vulnerabilities they are designed to fix, which means that cybercriminals now know where to focus their hacking efforts.

Keep an Eye Out for Trouble

You can’t adequately protect your digital assets if you don’t know what threats are out there. Managed threat intelligence lets you keep an eye on your entire operation, alerts you to suspicious activities, and confirms threats quickly so they can be addressed.

Invest in Employee Training

Cybersecurity for the Manufacturing Industry, What You Need to Know Now
Even the most robust and well-crafted cybersecurity plan is useless if it can’t be implemented effectively. Employees need to understand why cybersecurity is critical and what role they play in safeguarding the company’s digital assets. New employees should be provided with cybersecurity training as part of their onboarding process, and all employees can benefit from annual refresher training.
You may also want to consider running tabletop scenarios. Tabletop scenarios are similar to fire drills: They allow your team to practice responding to potential threats in a no-stakes environment. The facilitator poses a scenario, and your employees work together to address the situation and minimize or even avoid disruption and damage. Once the scenario is finished, your team sits down and reviews their findings, identifying gaps in your current protocols or employee knowledge so that they can be addressed.

Conclusion

Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting the manufacturing industry, and smaller manufacturers without robust cybersecurity protocols in place are particularly vulnerable. Investing in good cybersecurity is an investment in your business, and MSSP experts are here to help you every step of the way.

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