Manufacturing is becoming more digitized as the industry is embracing automation to a higher intensity than ever before. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is bringing artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and robotics into factories. Cyber-physical operations can now mix all aspects of the supply chain, including operational systems and data systems, and are taking the place of old, siloed mechanisms.

Any factory that uses these technological innovations is recognized as a Smart Factory and it triggers what analysts call nowadays Industry 4.0. Smart Factories will benefit the manufacturing industry substantially, as digital technology can offer higher production performance, better quality products with minimal errors, and increased flexibility for working processes.

It’s no surprise that manufacturers are moving faster to improve their factories. Many manufacturing companies have already introduced the Internet of Things into their culture, and it is said that by 2022, the IIoT market is expected to be worth $195.47 billion. If you are interested in how the Internet of Things can impact the manufacturing industry, you can find detailed information in our article: How IoT Applications are Reshaping the Manufacturing Industry

The digital transformation of the manufacturing industry and its hidden secret

The digital transformation of the manufacturing industry allows for a seamless flow of data between machines. The data can be used to improve the performance of the machines and reach maximum performance whilst minimizing waste. This can result also in a diminished downtime which can help enhance quality and reproducibility, improving profitability.

But here comes trouble! Despite the advantages they offer, the connected nature of Smart Factories leaves the manufacturing industry exposed to a diversity of possible cyber threats – a concern which is stopping some manufacturers from completely modernizing their processes. And it’s a real concern! Cybersecurity is a real risk for manufacturers. But with the fast-moving innovations, manufacturing companies can’t afford to fall behind their rivals.

What kind of cybersecurity risks can manufacturers face

A cyber-criminal can attack a manufacturing company in many ways, including phishing and other social engineering techniques, resulting in malicious infections such as ransomware and trojan horses.

  • Data theft – with customer details stored on CRM systems, hackers can attempt to gather and keep this information to blackmail
  • Interrupt access systems or operating systems – hackers may take control of industrial processes to conflict with production or even alter the products
  • Gain intelligence for competitive advantage – industrial espionage sees hackers capture intellectual proprietorship

Phishing – the most common method of cyber-attack

Phishing is the fraudulent attempt to obtain delicate data like passwords and protected files, by acting as a reliable party. It’s the most popular method of cyber-attack because there’s a never-ending stream of diverse vulnerabilities that a hacker can take advantage of. It could be extracted through a false ad on social media, or disguised as an email from a co-worker.

Hacking and altering a factory procedure can be accomplished by targeting any system of operations technology, the architecture of supervisory control and data acquisition. Many manufacturing businesses have various systems to operate their factories inside their internal IT structure which is also remotely accessible, which is where criminals are targeting.

Enjoy the benefits of digital transformation and innovative technologies! Here is how you can mitigate cybersecurity risks

With the proper time and financial investment in cybersecurity, the manufacturing industry will be able to enjoy the full benefits of Smart Factories and digitalization.

Keep your network operating system and software up-to-date

Make sure that network and software updates are up-to-date for all users; check that anti-virus licenses are updated and configured to install updates in real-time, activate spam blockers, and check your firewall power.

On all computers enable malware detection software. Required scheduled maintenance is recommended; it makes the business less likely to become vulnerable to employees who neglect regular desktop updates.

Reduce fraud with custom software solutions

You can reduce fraud by implementing a custom software solution! It’s better to opt for customized solutions and build a system exclusively according to your needs and requirements. 

Custom software is more secure than out-of-the-box software. A custom-developed software is only used by your company, therefore the chances of intrusion are minimized. Most importantly, hacking custom software will only provide access to one company’s data, which isn’t very rewarding for malicious hackers.

Custom development also gives you total control over the implementation of security technologies or standards into your applications. You can, therefore, choose the ones that best represent your business and save costs.

Conduct password audits and create two-step login authentication for all users

Employees and their passwords constitute one of the biggest security threats you can face. Lower the risk by performing an audit of user password strength. Also, require a reset of any known weak passwords. On the other hand, consult with your development team to incorporate a two-step user login process that reduces the possibility employees will share or guess the passwords of each other.

It is reported that at some point up to 73% of workers have exchanged passwords. Add an automated log-off mechanism that logs out users after a defined timeframe that prevents other workers from operating under the incorrect user.

Train the employees in cybersecurity awareness and let them know how it can impact the business

Encourage new and current workers to enroll in cybersecurity education, to know what is a fraud, how to recognize acceptable email links and attachments, how to detect alerts, detect shady websites, and what to do if they might have infected the business in any way.

Backup crucial files regularly

To stop the horrible ransomware-extortion experience, backup sensitive data and applications away from your major corporate servers and not connected to your main network in any way. If possible, encrypt data so the data can’t be read, even if decrypted by an attacker.

Develop a recovery plan in the event of a cyberattack

Build a restoration plan which includes what to do, who to notify, and take action in the event of a cyberattack. In an attack, speed is vital and teams who can rapidly shut down access to the attacker will reduce losses and effect on the organization.

To sum up

Cyberattacks are real. A security mistake breaks the sense of confidence and relationship with customers and manufacturers could lose important data about crucial manufacturing operations, especially proprietary information.

By recognizing the need for cybersecurity and how cybersecurity measures can be controlled, evaluated, and enforced, consumers and the manufacturers can accomplish peace of mind in the ever-increasing, the digitally-connected world of manufacturing.

Now is the time to invest in cybersecurity for manufacturing to secure your operations against extortion and infrastructure vulnerabilities!

Keep in mind: while investing in cybersecurity or cloud computing security can be expensive, not doing it, will be more costly in the long run.

Start delivering quality software on time.