The Importance of Cybersecurity in Protecting Manufacturing Systems
By Lindie Kieren | June 14, 2022 | 5 min read
As manufacturing systems have adopted more remote measures over the last two years, the industry has become fodder for cybercriminals. In 2021, the manufacturing industry became the second most targeted just behind finance and insurance. This represents a 300% increase in a single year.
More recently, cyberattacks have become more malicious as ransomware becomes more common. This May, Parker-Hannifin Corporation revealed that they have been hacked by ransomware actors. The firm, which is one of the world’s largest motion control tech manufacturers, shared that the hackers were threatening to release sensitive employee information if they were not paid a fee. Unfortunately, this is not the first nor the last insidious attack that has happened in the same vein.
The Continued Rise of Cybercrime Today
Undoubtedly, cybercrime has been one of the most steadily growing threats in today's digital era. Over the last decade, cybercrime has gone from niche to wide-scale as more industries and sectors transition online. Currently, up to 80% of all businesses are affected by cybercrime around the world. By the end of 2022, cybercrime is estimated to become so rampant that up to 10% of all internet users worldwide will be affected.
This has birthed the creation of more cybersecurity responses, which in turn has continued the demand for experts in this field. In order to meet the demand to tackle cybercrime across multiple industries colleges are including cybersecurity training across all IT degrees. Current programs in online management information systems now include advanced training in cybersecurity and data analysis alongside the curriculum’s usual programming and project management courses. This allows graduates to design and build highly secure systems that are anchored around organization and cybersecurity. Industry stakeholders hope that this will create a more well-rounded IT ecosystem wherein every player is able to create a powerful defense against sophisticated cybercriminals. This same comprehensive approach is also being adopted in manufacturing systems.
How Cybersecurity Is Curbing The Manufacturing Industry’s Biggest Threats
Presently, cybersecurity measures are steadily closing the gap through which cybercriminals have been slipping through. Among the most effective ways that cybersecurity is protecting manufacturing systems is by increasing transparency and heightening authentication processes. Since many manufacturers found themselves vulnerable to phishing, malware, and ransomware upon their switch to online remote practices, improved transparency ensures that everything from the supply chain to daily reports is not siloed. This means that it is easier to spot anomalies that may be a sign of a malicious third party. In some cases, this may mean adopting secure cloud-based software like Weever that can streamline data, enhance real-time visibility, and cut down on errors, omissions, and costs that are common with older approaches, like paper forms, or outdated software.
Second, since up to 30% of all cybercrime incidents in manufacturing start internally, having better authentication measures reduces the risk of accidental or purposeful leaks. In this method, even “soft targets” (small and medium-sized manufacturers) have a smaller entry point for hackers to exploit. Since a recent government estimate shows that up to 21% of all files are not protected in any way, by employing better protocols that limit access, these sensitive documents are less likely to be exposed. Some common authentication measures in manufacturing today include zero-trust and multi-factor authentication. Through these, should a breach occur, it is also relatively faster to track and secure because there are fewer entryways to examine. Conversely, the average data breach takes about 280 days to detect and contain. By creating a more secure environment that is also easier to investigate in the off-chance of a breach, organizations can save up to $1 million in costs by containing breaches in less than 200 days.
Is The Dawn of Cybersecure Manufacturing Near?
To date, the manufacturing industry is still in the crosshairs of many cybercriminals who want to take advantage of its relative vulnerabilities. Fortunately, although widespread cybersecurity rollouts are still modest, more industry leaders are exploring ways to better digitalize the sector. As per the latest manufacturing industry reports, the industry is looking into optimizing data to increase automation and decision-making. While this will mainly increase task and data management, this is also a step forward to better track cybercrime trends. Apart from this, more manufacturers are also embracing smart solutions like modular and highly secure software that can be easily deployed while also safeguarding their online processes.
All in all, this bodes well for manufacturing systems that have thus far been lagging in terms of security and advancement. While this doesn’t mean that the sector will ever truly be rid of cybercrime, it does mean that manufacturers are one step closer to becoming more secure players in Industry 4.0.