Manufacturing Cyber Security: A Comprehensive Guide

  • October 17, 2023
  • By Cyberarch Admin

The manufacturing industry has undergone a massive transformation in recent years. Thanks to the latest technology and advanced tools such as automation and artificial intelligence, the manufacturing processes have become more productive, efficient and profitable. Plus, it saves time and cost. However, there is a caveat – the possibility of cyberattacks.

Further, this blog aims to shed more light on cybersecurity in manufacturing, the challenges and possible strategies.

Cybersecurity in Manufacturing: Challenges

Cybersecurity in manufacturing industry is predicted to reach approximately 30 billion by 2027. However a report from Deloitte revealed that close to 48% of manufacturing leaders consider cybersecurity as an operational risk hindering the companies from embracing smart factories.

Smart manufacturing activities, powered by automation, artificial intelligence and data analytics, require connectivity, industrial internet of things and more. The blend of IT and operational technology also makes manufacturing sector more vulnerable to attacks as it opens up attack surface area. This is precisely the reason why manufacturing sector needs to amp up the cyber defence measures.

Major Problems with a Breach

  • Operational Disruption
  • Loss of Intellectual Property
  • Sometime, loss of life

If production line halts due to cybersecurity attacks, the manufacturing companies are at risk of losing thousands of dollars every minute. Primarily, cyber criminals target Industrial Control Systems and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Systems (SCADA)

Lack of investment in cybersecurity measures is one of the biggest challenges. Moreover, a holistic approach that covers both IT and OT is now necessary. From a technical point of view, using end point detection and response in manufacturing systems is today not feasible. Thus, cybersecurity professionals rely on monitoring of network traffic, which is a daunting task given the massive data generated.

Why Cybersecurity is Important in Manufacturing

  • The Digital Transformation Trend

Manufacturing industries across the world are adopting Industry 4.O – that includes IoT, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Big Data, Analytics and more to achieve operational goals. But the interconnectivity of the technology opens up possibilities of cyberattacks. As you can see, the more digital transformation happens, more vulnerable they are to cyber exploitation by criminals online. 

  • Data-driven Manufacturing Decisions

Data is undeniably at the centre of everything modern manufacturers perform. Data derived from the following helps in better operation and result focused decision:

  • Supply chain management
  • Inventory control
  • Predictive maintenance
  • Quality assurance
  • Regulatory Compliance

Manufacturers often operate in highly regulated industries such as aerospace, healthcare, and automotive, where data security and privacy compliance are mandatory. Non-compliance can result in severe legal consequences, fines, and reputational damage. Cybersecurity measures are essential to meet these regulatory requirements.

Types of Threats for Cybersecurity in Manufacturing

Manufacturing facilities face a wide range of cyber threats, including:

  • Ransomware Attacks: Cybercriminals encrypt a manufacturer’s data and demand a ransom for decryption keys, disrupting operations until the ransom is paid.
  • Phishing Attacks: Malicious actors use social engineering to trick employees into revealing sensitive information or installing malware.
  • Insider Threats: Disgruntled employees or contractors with access to critical systems may pose a significant risk.
  • Supply Chain Vulnerabilities: Cyberattacks targeting suppliers can have cascading effects on manufacturers.
  • High-Profile Incidents: Several high-profile cyberattacks on manufacturing companies have made headlines in recent years. For example, the NotPetya ransomware attack in 2017 cost the Maersk shipping company an estimated $300 million in losses. These incidents underscore the industry’s vulnerability to cyber threats and emphasize the importance of robust cybersecurity measures.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT): The proliferation of IoT devices in manufacturing facilities provides new opportunities for cyberattacks. Connected sensors, robots, and machinery can be exploited by hackers to gain unauthorized access to critical systems or disrupt production processes.

Key Cybersecurity Strategies for Manufacturing

  • Employee Training and Awareness

Human error remains one of the weakest links in cybersecurity. Manufacturing companies must invest in regular cybersecurity training and awareness programs for employees. This includes teaching them how to recognize phishing attempts, the importance of strong password management, and the risks associated with connecting unauthorized devices to the network.

  • Network Segmentation

Segmenting the network into isolated zones with restricted access rights can limit the lateral movement of cyber threats. Critical systems should be isolated from less secure parts of the network, preventing a breach from spreading across the entire infrastructure.

  • Regular Patching and Updates

Manufacturers should keep their software, operating systems, and IoT devices up to date with the latest security patches. Vulnerabilities in outdated software are often exploited by cybercriminals.

  • Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS)

Installing IDS and IPS can help detect and mitigate threats in real-time. These systems monitor network traffic for suspicious activities and can automatically respond to threats by blocking them.

  • Data Encryption

Encrypting sensitive data both in transit and at rest ensures that even if attackers gain access to it, they cannot use it without the encryption keys.

  • Incident Response Plan

Manufacturers must have a well-defined incident response plan in place. This plan outlines the steps to be taken in case of a cyberattack, including communication protocols, containment measures, and recovery strategies.

  • Third-party Risk Management

Assessing and managing the cybersecurity posture of suppliers and partners is crucial. Weaknesses in third-party systems can become entry points for attackers targeting manufacturing facilities.

Case Studies: Successful Cybersecurity Implementation

Emerging Trends in Manufacturing Cybersecurity

  • AI and Machine Learning

AI and machine learning technologies are increasingly being used to detect and respond to cyber threats in real-time. These technologies can analyze vast amounts of data to identify anomalies and patterns associated with cyberattacks.

  • Zero Trust Architecture

The adoption of a Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) is gaining traction in manufacturing. ZTA assumes that no device or user, whether inside or outside the network, can be trusted by default. This approach involves strict access controls and continuous authentication.

  • Security by Design

Manufacturers are starting to incorporate security into the design phase of their products and processes. This proactive approach can reduce vulnerabilities and minimize the risk of cyberattacks.

The manufacturing industry is at a crossroads, leveraging advanced technologies to optimize production while facing an increasingly sophisticated cyber threat landscape. As digitization continues to reshape the industry, cybersecurity in manufacturing is no longer an option but a necessity. By implementing robust cybersecurity strategies, fostering a culture of awareness, and staying abreast of emerging threats and trends, manufacturers can protect their operations, intellectual property, and reputation, ensuring a secure and prosperous future for the industry.


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