How to Protect Manufacturers and Supply Chains from Cyber Attacks
Cybersecurity is a concern for every business in today’s market. It’s not so much about if you’ll be the target of a data breach, but when. Businesses of all sizes can become targets of cyberattacks, and these attacks can be devastating.
Manufacturing companies have largely lagged behind on cybersecurity, putting them at risk for damaging data breaches. In some ways, the industry has been safer from cyberattacks than many other sectors as it has been slower to adopt advanced technology, such as “smart” systems.
However, that’s changing at a critical time: when supply chains are already struggling to meet consumer demands. In recent years, the number of cyberattacks on manufacturing companies has spiked, prompting more organizations to reevaluate their security protocols.
Here are some ways to protect manufacturers and supply chains from cyberattacks.
Understand Common Cyberattack Tactics
To protect against security breaches, it’s important to know which techniques hackers are using to access valuable data. In the manufacturing industry and within supply chains, the most common types of attacks tend to be ransomware, phishing, and internal breaches.
Ransomware involves taking control of a company’s data and asking for money in exchange for returning control. This is often a very successful type of attack because manufacturing companies typically can’t afford to shut down while they work to regain control.
Phishing schemes involve sending emails with fraudulent content that aims to get something from the recipient. For example, a hacker posing as a manager through email could request confidential company information from an unsuspecting employee, gaining access through a supply chain.
Internal breaches can occur through unsecured devices or even employees bent on theft or revenge. Protecting against these breaches is especially difficult as employee access is essential for running a business.
Follow Best Practices for Protecting Data
If you haven’t done a security audit in a while (or maybe ever), it’s a good first step in implementing better security protocols. Get up to speed on today’s best practices and go over your current strategy. Where do you need to improve? Once you know what steps you need to take, update all your policies and documentation surrounding cybersecurity.
Remember That Cybersecurity Isn’t Just About Tech
Unfortunately, protecting a company’s networks isn’t just about making sure you have the right security tech in place. People are the weakest link in any cybersecurity effort, and your employees can create vulnerabilities unintentionally.
Ongoing training is important for keeping awareness high in your organization. Teach people how to spot signs of an attack and what to do if they notice those signs. Talk to them about device and password security, phishing, and other important cybersecurity topics so they stay top-of-mind. Creating a culture around security is key for modern businesses.
Recognize the Danger of Third-Party Services
Supply chains have become extremely vulnerable to cyberattacks. The biggest reason for this is the number of third-party services that are involved in every supply chain. Organizations have to provide confidential information to third parties, meaning the data that’s passed along is only as safe as the security used by the third parties.
Choosing vendors carefully helps, but the more complex the chain, the more likely a breach will be. Sometimes, manufacturers have security requirements in their contracts with third parties, in an attempt to minimize risks.
Look Into New Cybersecurity Tech Options
Some technology solutions for cybersecurity, such as encryption, are still very effective for keeping data safe, but there are also emerging options that are promising for organizations that want to increase security. Blockchain technology, for example, is more secure than a traditional centralized data system.
Although it was created specifically for cryptocurrency, more industries are now using the technology to improve security. Staying on top of innovations in cybersecurity can help you decide on the best solutions for your organization and ensure that your security stays up to date.
Prepare for the Worst
Unfortunately, it’s probably just a matter of time before your organization experiences a cyberattack. With all the vulnerabilities within supply chains and the evolving tactics of hackers, a successful attack is almost inevitable.
You can reduce the potential damage from an attack by preparing for the worst, however. Having a cyberattack response plan can help ensure that your team will spot the attack quickly and know how to respond. Having a solid response plan will reduce costs and reputation loss from an attack.
Manufacturing and Supply Chain Cyber Attacks are Serious
Supply chain issues have been a major problem since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. While some manufacturers are mostly producing luxury goods, it’s important to remember that supply chains are critical in supplying essentials as well, from food and water to energy. This means that attacks on supply chains can have devastating outcomes. Cybersecurity is critical for ensuring that communities all over the world have access to what they need when they need it.
*This article is written by Andrew Deen. Andrew has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He implements lean methodology and is currently writing a book about scaling up business. You can follow him on Twitter @AndrewDeen14.