Manufacturers already had it tough. Less than two years ago, the State of Encrypted Attacks revealed the sector was more vulnerable to malicious browser breaches than any other industry and took 38.6% of cyber attacks. With the recent conflagration of geopolitics and Western security officials issuing warnings to US companies of cyber-attacks, many manufacturers have found themselves in a DEFCON 1 threat-level situation.
To add insult to injury, manufacturers aren’t only the target of rogue cybercriminals and malicious state actors. They’re also victims of cyber attacks launched by aggrieved employees and paid-for-hire hackers involved in corporate espionage.
Understanding Manufacturing’s Vulnerability to Cyber Threats
Manufacturing’s vulnerability stems from two distinct challenges. The first is that manufacturers have traditionally focused on safety and performance, not data security. The result is that manufacturers’ facilities and IT infrastructures often lack alignment and uniform policy enforcement. Second, many manufacturers have failed to adopt the latest technologies and face technological obsolescence. (Driving home the point that digital evolution — the industry-wide effort to shift from legacy systems to advanced digital networks and applications — is more vital than ever.)
At Pivot International, we are a global manufacturer, product development, and supply chain firm with integrative operations and extensive investment in the latest digital technologies. These technologies include cloud computing, AI, blockchain, advanced P&P SMT, and more. Our one-source, full-service business model means that centralized coordination and oversight are part of our company DNA and technology stack. This enables us to achieve seamless alignment across our facilities and deliver extremely high levels of data security for our customers.
The Top Three Cyber Threats to Manufacturers
Manufacturers must defend themselves against three types of cyber threats: traditional, advanced malware, and internal. Let’s look at each.
Traditional attacks refer to unauthorized access to sensitive systems and data, often through phishing attacks. Breaches occur when company employees unwittingly disclose login credentials or other information to malicious actors, essentially giving cybercriminals the key to the company’s front door.
Advanced malware is becoming more common and increasingly disruptive. With these sorts of attacks, ubiquitous connectivity cuts both ways, allowing malicious software easy access to legacy systems from which it can spread like wildfire to others. In the worst cases, all that is left is scorched earth.
Internal threats can be no less destructive but can also be more organizationally disruptive since these attacks are made by insiders — typically those motivated by the desire to steal IP, blackmail stakeholders, or carry out a personal vendetta in response to a perceived grievance. These attacks can be executed from anywhere within the organization, from the entry-level to the C-suite.
The business impacts of any of these attacks can range from inconvenient to catastrophic. At their worst, cyber-attacks can damage a company’s competitive advantage via the proliferation of counterfeits or knock-offs that weaken its market position. Even when companies survive cyber-attacks seemingly unscathed, they can suffer potentially devastating reputational damage, especially when sensitive customer data has been compromised.
Strategies That Can Protect Manufacturers
Manufacturers can protect themselves with two different strategies. The first can be summarized as “know thy enemy.” The second involves achieving greater alignment, integration, policy measure enforcement, and aggressive moves toward digital revolution.
Data thieves and bad cyber actors tend to rely on phishing as their preferred form of attack. But first, they set the stage by wreaking havoc with your network and then swooping in to save the day by posing as a source of help. If your network seems to be acting up or crippled entirely and a pop-up message appears from Microsoft or another trusted source with an offer to fix the problem for you — contingent on you providing a credit card, login credentials, or other information — watch out!
In addition to being wary of phishing attacks, manufacturers need to understand that observing best data security practices and moving toward digital revolution is the price of entry for a secure network, which means focusing on:
- Ensuring all facilities and users are united and aligned under an integrated IT infrastructure and that security measures are uniformly enforced
- Outwitting attackers by using apps (which are invisible to attackers) to access resources and data without exposing the entire network
- Deploying cloud-native proxy-based architecture to inspect every user across all traffic to decrypt, detect, and prevent threats in all SSL traffic
- Unleashing AI-driven quarantines of suspicious activity, storing it for analysis, and halting malware installation in its tracks
Looking for a Trusted Manufacturing Partner?
With a half-century of proven experience, 320,000 square feet of scalable manufacturing capability across three continents (including three domestic options in the American Midwest), we are a trusted production partner to companies worldwide. If you’d like to learn more about our services, how we protect your data, and how we can help you launch a successful product, contact us today!