3 Steps to Reduce Cyber Attacks in Manufacturing

3 Steps to Reduce Cyber Attacks in Manufacturing

Digitization has been a hot topic in manufacturing lately. It brings machinery and data together, thus improving productivity, reducing costs, and creating greater efficiencies on the factory floor. The way these digital initiatives work is by incorporating hardware and software that connects operational technology (OT) environments with Information Technology (IT). Aside from the great benefits that result from these digitization transformations, there’s a darker side: an increased security risk for manufacturers. By relying on technology, manufacturers are bigger targets for cyber-attacks. According to VentureBeat, “Nearly one in four attacks targeted manufacturers in [2022]. Ransomware is the most popular attack strategy, and 61% of breaches targeted operational technology (OT)–connected organizations.” Bloomberg recently reported that ransomware attacks increased by 87 percent from 2021 to 2022. These attacks cost manufacturers billions of dollars in damages and compromised data. Today we’ll run through 3 ways to reduce exposure to cyber-attacks in the manufacturing sector.

  1. Test, Test, Test 

Testing (again and again) is one of the best ways to maintain a secure network. IT professionals have an arsenal of tools at their disposal to locate vulnerabilities in a company’s infrastructure. Businesses should set up a regular schedule for a variety of tests to ensure their systems are updated and uncompromised.

Types of tests include a cybersecurity audit, which checks for vulnerabilities within a system so companies can take a more proactive approach when designing their security systems. Penetration, or pen testing, is a common test during which an IT professional will launch a cyber-attack on purpose to pinpoint areas of weakness. Another testing example would be a vulnerability scan: this is similar to a pen test; however, it identifies weaknesses in a system without the need for a false cyber-attack. 

  1. Automate 

Manufacturers love great automation when it comes to processes. We know how beneficial it is for streamlining, creating efficiencies, and increasing ROI. That’s why automating security measures, including testing, is key to making the most of your time. Automation can also result in consistency and accuracy, allowing businesses to increase their security measures without breaking the bank. Automation systems are user-friendly by design, too: this makes them more accessible to anyone in the plant who might be tasked with identifying potential risks to your networks. 

  1. Prioritize 

As we mentioned, manufacturers are prone to many cyber-attacks. To address them in the most cost-effective manner, it’s important to prioritize any remediation tactics by their potential business impact. You’ll want to begin tackling the threats that could have the greatest impact on daily operations and go from there. It’s likely that a company will have a chaotic amount of security alerts on any given day, and thoughtful prioritization can help cut through some of that noise.

Today’s digital world makes all of us more attractive targets to cyber-attacks. But with the right strategies in place, those in the manufacturing industry can get ahead of the destruction before a breach occurs. Ensuring the plant floor is in operational condition is critical—and reducing exposure to cyber-attacks is one of the best ways to keep it that way.