A few years ago, who would have thought that Manufacturing companies could ever face any sort of cyber threat. Cyber threats were always a point of concern for the IT companies. However, today, the reality is quite different. Manufacturing firms are at a great risk of cyber-attacks and the impact of such attacks can be debilitating for organizations. With the Internet of things spreading its wings across manufacturing spaces, the cyber risk for connected devices is a reality that is increasing exponentially in its size and form.
The harsh reality is that cyber-attacks on manufacturing units may lead to humongous losses. Imagine, a health supplement manufacturer’s mixing systems are tampered, it may lead to the final product not being up to the quality mark and may lead to health hazards. Or further imagine, some automotive part being made incorrect due to a malware attack on an automotive robot. This will lead to massive recalls and huge losses to a company’s revenue as well as brand. Not just this, but there are multiple ways in which manufacturing firms can suffer. Cyber criminals can actually steal your employee’s data, get access into your systems and steal business critical information or Intellectual Property. Advanced malware can disrupt your operations through connected networks and devices and lead to failures, breakdowns and unwanted down time. All this means loss of productive time, unwanted maintenance costs, higher risks on floor as well as to your sensitive information and overall poor impact on your reputation. In a nut shell, every cyber-attack threat is a potential financial and credibility loss for manufacturing companies. And unlike, traditional technology companies, recovering post a malware attack in a manufacturing firm is not just about retrieving data from backups. It’s about products not being as per specifications and standards which essentially means Re-production, Recalls and Reputation Damage.
A research conducted by Deloitte suggests that almost 50% of manufacturing companies are not too confident that their systems are protected against external threats. A simple reason could be that most manufacturing setups date back to times when floor safety and precision were the only parameters that concerned the manufacturing organizations. Cyber security was never considered a real thing to be worried about. However, changing times are now making it imperative for manufacturing firms to focus on this silent yet deadly monster that can disrupt their business in a way they had never foreseen.
What can companies do?
As a start, manufacturing companies need to recognize cyber threat as a real threat that can impact them. The risk needs to be understood at all levels starting right at the top and going down to employee level. Additionally, organizations need to focus on the following:
- Ensure better budgets for improving cyber security.
- Do a thorough risk analysis on critical networks and have sturdy security strategies.
- Hire cyber security experts to do the job and not just manufacturing process experts.
- Cut down Internal threat by educating employees against IT system abuse and implementing better systems and policies.
- Significantly cut down the risk to your operations by performing cyber risk assessment on your Industrial Control Systems and monitoring them more frequently.
- Assess the cyber risk associated with external players in your supply chain, subcontractors and other third party vendors or partners who can have critical impact on your business.
- Build your security system and be prepared so that even in case of a cyber breach, your systems stay protected, secure and functional with minimal damages.
The overall aim of manufacturing companies should be to stay vigilant and develop resilience against any sort of cyber-crime. Investing into cyber risk management systems can further help improve your overall cyber security levels.