How to Implement Cybersecurity for Manufacturing

Manufacturing companies have a lot of proprietary data that could be used for cyber extortion or sabotage. Knowing where this information is stored in both physical and digital environments is important.

Manufacturers often rely on third parties like vendors, suppliers, shipping companies and storage facilities. This can allow hackers to access your network through these vulnerable points.

Assess Your Vulnerabilities

The manufacturing sector produces the products that contribute to global economic expansion and raise the standard of living. However, as the manufacturing industry becomes more advanced and dependent on networked devices, it creates new api security risks.

Cyberattacks in the manufacturing industry can damage business systems, disrupt production, and cost a company money and reputation. To protect against these attacks, manufacturers need to develop comprehensive cybersecurity programs and take steps to implement them.

Many of the tools modern manufacturing companies use are designed with minimal built-in security, making them vulnerable to attack. Manufacturing businesses must separate industrial control systems (ICS) from the network used for conducting business to avoid exposing ICS to threats from internal or external sources.

Additionally, manufacturing businesses must ensure IoT devices are secure and compliant with CMMC regulations.

Manufacturers must also prepare for insider threats, which can occur when a current or former employee maliciously or accidentally damages a company’s data or systems. These attacks can include the theft of confidential blueprints, industrial espionage, and equipment sabotage. To reduce the risk of these attacks, manufacturers should install strict access restrictions and routinely check the backgrounds of new employees.

Because of the value and accessibility of their data, manufacturing companies are a favorite target for cyberattacks. Ransomware attacks are particularly damaging, as they can require much money to be restored. To mitigate the effects of these attacks, manufacturers should implement strong cybersecurity for manufacturing, develop a policy and get top-level administration buy-in to enforce the policy consistently.

Create a Plan

The influx of technology in manufacturing has led to the need for more and better cybersecurity systems. This is especially true with integrating industrial IoT devices and digitized manufacturing processes, making the industry an attractive target for cyberattacks.

Threat actors see the value in gaining access to a manufacturing company’s system to steal trade secrets, business plans and valuable intellectual property. Then, they can use that information to compete against the manufacturing company. Additionally, manufacturers can often sell their products to other companies, making them attractive targets for stealing customer data and cyber-hacking into the supply chain.

With industrial control systems making up a significant portion of a manufacturing network, investing in cybersecurity for these critical systems is more important than ever. These systems are essential for enabling production and can cause significant problems when compromised. Whether they are hacked to steal sensitive information, held for ransom or used in the case of the Colonial Pipeline hack to impact infrastructure, the threat is real, and the risks are far-reaching.

Manufacturers should also create a plan to implement cybersecurity practices across the organization and supply chain. The standards outlined in NIST guidelines and the first two CMMC levels lay out basic cybersecurity practices that all companies should follow. Learning where your company stands about these requirements and developing a comprehensive plan that provides the software necessary to meet these guidelines is the first step to improving your manufacturing cybersecurity.

Train Your Employees

As the manufacturing industry increasingly becomes digital, with automated machinery, IoT/IIoT sensors and interconnected systems, a growing need exists to ensure cybersecurity. Cyber attacks can affect the operation of a factory in various ways: disrupting production, theft of intellectual property, compromising safety measures and leading to expensive repair costs and regulatory fines.

The best way to implement a successful cybersecurity program is to get the entire team on board, including management. This will help to ensure that everyone is aware of how a cyberattack could impact their work and the business and will keep them mindful when navigating online. It will also help to break the mindset that security is only an IT issue, which can lead to a lack of attention to it within departments.

It’s important to have training programs that are relevant to the needs of your employees and tailored to their roles. This helps to keep it interesting and memorable. One of the best ways to do this is to use stories, which activate human empathy and make a lesson more relatable. For example, you can tell a story about how one hotel front desk clerk was “vanished” by hackers over the phone, asking for their password to verify a guest booking.

Another way to make training more relevant is by making it interactive. This means having written guides and a video of the training and using games or quizzes to assess understanding. It’s also helpful to have a training program that is constantly being updated to keep up with the latest threats.

Invest in Security

Manufacturers must see it as a business imperative to invest in effective cybersecurity solutions for their industrial control systems, supply chain, and other critical infrastructure.

Many manufacturers rely on older technology for their production floor, which is often no longer supported by security updates and could expose them to common attacks. Additionally, manufacturers communicate with a wide range of endpoints, including vendors, investors, shipping companies and storage facilities, which could become a gateway for hackers.

Unlike other industries, manufacturing has a unique combination of value and accessibility, making it an attractive target for hackers. They may be able to steal information like customer or partner data and gain access to the sensitive information of the company’s production lines.

By implementing security best practices and adhering to industry standards, manufacturers can protect their valuable infrastructure and data from cyber threats and ultimately secure their position in the global supply chain. With new technology, growth and innovation are vital for manufacturing, but prioritizing cybersecurity is important so those advancements don’t compromise company data or create vulnerabilities.