Home Manufacturing: Feeling the Heat from Cyber Attacks

Manufacturing: Feeling the Heat from Cyber Attacks


The manufacturing sector is under attack on numerous fronts. Uncertain trade policies are creating economic imbalances. Sourcing materials from overseas suppliers is getting more expensive, making it more difficult to sell finished products in key markets. In tight times, it is tempting for organizations to scale back IT budgets, including essential upgrades to cyber security. However, with today’s highly destructive cyber attacks, putting cyber security on hold is no longer feasible, and some may consider it reckless. One recent research report validated the need for manufacturing firms to stay current with their cyber security. Half of the surveyed respondents in manufacturing environments knew of a data breach or cyber attack involving their computer systems or networks over the previous 12 months. Of these, 11% experienced a major intrusion.1

“Digital technologies—such as connected devices in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), artificial intelligence, and robotics, among others—continue to receive significant attention. These technologies are rewriting the rules of competition for industrial companies, while also increasing their vulnerability to the growing threat of cyber attacks and data breaches.” 2 As “smart” manufacturing continues to expand across the globe, cyber security risk must become a top priority for manufacturers. The sector is one of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors (CI) underpinning global economies.3

In this paper, as your organization’s cyber security executive, we will explore what manufacturers need to consider when updating cyber security strategies. We will offer best practices that can help you prevent a wide range of cyber attacks, and keep your systems and operations running smoothly.

What Makes Manufacturers Ripe for Malicious Attacks?

Manufacturers have been involved in a digital transformation for several decades. This digital transformation however, must be matched with cybersecurity measures, especially given that manufacturing is currently one of 55 national critical functions at highest risk for a cyberattack. Just in-time (JIT) manufacturing has roots dating back to the 1970’s. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) as well as automatic identification for supply-chain management and logistics, computer numerically controlled (CNC) machining, robotics, as well as IC/SCADA operating software have made the new manufacturing economy (NME) a competitive advantage for those at the leading edge.

However, each new technological innovation comes with vulnerabilities that cyber attackers can exploit. This is especially concerning with the joining of operating technology (OT) such as SCADA software with IT technology to become the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). IIoT connects manufacturer owned devices to every corner of the globe.

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1 “M&D Report 2019 Transforming for Tomorrow,” by Jerry Murphy, Sikich LLP, 201