All too often the news is splashed with stories of cybersecurity breaches. These headlines call attention to instances where hackers steal millions of pieces of information at a time, usually from large retailers or government agencies. However, the news of only certain breaches distracts from the fact that every industry can suffer from cybersecurity breaches, including the manufacturing industry. Attacks on manufacturers can result in the theft of intellectual property and substantial damage to manufacturing processes. Manufacturers should take cybersecurity very seriously, prioritizing it in order to protect themselves from legal and financial liability.

One of the biggest threats facing manufacturers is the prospect of intellectual property theft. Whether it is the intellectual property of the manufacturer or the manufacturer’s clients, the legal and financial ramifications of this can be devastating. Furthermore, such a breach could damage the manufacturer’s your companys reputation, its most highly regarded assets.

Another threat, unique to manufacturing, could be a hacker remotely tampering with the manufacturing process or equipment. This could disrupt production and cause the loss of materials and equipment. Or, the tampering could be more subtle, causing defective products to enter the marketplace before the intrusion is discovered. This may result in recalls, financial losses, and legal exposure.

A challenge in dealing with these threats is increasing automation and the rise of integrated technology through the internet of things. Most advanced equipment is linked in some way or another with a companys network and this integration presents multiple intrusion points for hackers to gain entry into your system. These integrated technologies provide varying levels of security out of the box and are easily overlooked when assessing overall risks.

Cybersecurity should be a fundamental part of a manufacturer’s business operations in order to prevent and/or mitigate the effects of a cybersecurity breach. Manufacturers should plan for, and take precautions to protect against, a cybersecurity breach. Manufacturers can utilize experts to assist in analyzing, identifying and minimizing the risk of an intrusion. Based on that analysis, cybersecurity protocols and programs can be developed, implemented, monitored and updated.
– By Nicole Harrell

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