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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.
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Technology is essential for business tasks like tracking manufacturing and distribution, managing inventory and the supply chain, and handling administrative duties. Once business leaders establish technological systems, it’s all too common for no one to think about it again for a decade. This isn’t a great business practice.
Successful businesses are constantly updating their software to make processes more efficient and to improve the user experience for customers. Haven’t updated your company’s technology in a while? There’s no need to worry.
If you take a minute to analyze your business processes, you may find there are some tell-tale signs it’s time for an upgrade.
1. Your Team Uses Different Software for Different Processes
Do you find that your team is constantly jumping from one platform to another? Are there different applications your team uses for different business processes?
You can lose time and productivity if you are always having to change systems and platforms. Not to mention, using multiple applications can slow down your computer.
2. Team Members Frequently Complain About the Software They Use
There is nothing worse than not being able to do your job well because of technology.
Questions to ask yourself about your team’s experience are:
- Is your team having to do a lot of manual business processes?
- Is it difficult to access the data your team needs to access daily?
- Is your business data available on the cloud for easy access?
- Is your software slow enough to cause frustration among your staff?
If you notice your team complaining about outdated software, slow hardware, or systems that hinder everyday duties, it won’t be long before you start seeing a drop in morale and productivity.
3. Your Business is Shifting Gears
If you’ve decided it’s time for your company to change directions, you may need to also upgrade your technology to better align with your new business goals. Perhaps you want to acquire new laptops, smartphones, or tablets for your team. Perhaps you simply want to set up new systems.
When shifting directions, new technology can help you achieve your business goals. Research new technological solutions that might be a good fit for your business, and evaluate your options.
4. The User Experience is Convoluted and Difficult
Talk to your customers to find out what the user experience is like with your website or any other systems they use to purchase goods or services from your business. Is the whole process too chaotic? How is the workflow efficiency? Are your systems causing you to have difficulty when scaling your business and adding more customers?
These are all signs it’s time to improve the user experience. The last thing you want is for your website or app to be giving customers the wrong impression about your business.
5. Your Software Isn’t Secure
Security for your company is crucial. If you find the software is being threatened, it’s definitely time for an upgrade. Customers will be able to trust your business more if they know their information is secure in your system.
If you haven’t upgraded in a while and you’re using older technology, you may be more vulnerable to security breaches. This can put your company and your customers in a bad position.
How to Upgrade Your Business Software
Alright, so you’ve taken a look at your business, you’ve assessed your situation, and you’ve noticed the signs that you need to give your business technology an upgrade. So what are the next steps? How should you go about getting started with updating your business technology?
1. Make Things Simple
You want to take a look at your current processes and figure out how you can streamline as much as possible. Unfortunately, business leaders can tend to overcomplicate things.
Identify your business goals, and research the best software to help you achieve as many of those goals as possible. Automate as much of the business processes as you can.
When you have put your new systems into place, don’t forget to test the new workflow. You want to be able to identify any issues so you can work to improve the effectiveness of any new systems.
2. Hire a Software Developer
Hiring a software developer is often one of the easiest ways to update your business software. In most cases, these experts will be able to go into your software, diagnose any problems you are having, and help you to find the right solutions for your business.
You may find it helpful to keep the software developer on retainer so that if you run into issues in the future, you can consult with them to find the best solution. This way, they can help you to ensure that your business processes continue to run smoothly.
3. Take a Web Design Class
If a lot of your issues have to do with your website, you may want to take web design classes yourself. In a web design class, you can learn the basics about web development, web coding principles, web graphics, and user experience.
You may be thinking that you’re interested in running your business, not becoming a web designer. However, as technology becomes more and more intertwined with business processes, you are likely to be much more successful in your business if you have a basic knowledge of how software and web design can work to help you have more efficient business processes.
If you want to improve the technology in your business, there are a lot of things you can do to stay current. It’s important to regularly take a look at your business processes and assess whether or not your technology is working for you.
*This article is written by Ainsley Lawrence. View more of Ainsley’s articles here.
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When you think of shipping and transportation, perhaps the last thing you consider is the threat that cybercrime can pose to the industry. However, as technology advances and systems become increasingly connected to online networks, cybersecurity is a necessity of modern shipping logistics.
Meanwhile, all kinds of digital attacks are increasing against a wide variety of industries. In this dangerous landscape, shipping companies must build strategies and implement processes that increase the safety of their digital systems.
From the rising threats to the evolving role of cybersecurity in shipping logistics, here’s what you should know.
The Rising Threat
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, shutting down economies and causing widespread financial uncertainty, hackers took it as an opportunity to increase their malicious efforts. As many as 90% of surveyed IT leaders said they experienced an increase in cyber attacks due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, 93% said they had to delay key security projects in order to manage remote-work transitions.
This demonstrates the vulnerability of online global systems. Threats like the Kwampirs malware are running rampant and IT leaders are caught off-guard while attempting to deal with other pressing concerns.
But what does this have to do with the shipping logistics industry?
All kinds of new and highly connected technologies are propagating in the fleet management market. These innovations consist of sensors and monitors in the form of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, AI route-improvement software, and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) that improve driver safety through assisting with difficult and repetitive tasks. These in-vehicle monitoring systems bring location tracking and enhanced driver analytics to fleet management, creating altogether safer roads.
But what happens if these systems get hacked?
June of 2017 was a preview of exactly that. When 80 logistics and transportation ports were struck by ransomware, shipping company A.P. Moller-Maersk lost $300 million. Meanwhile, many deliveries were held and drivers forced to idle. The attack disrupted a complex supply chain and the effects rippled through various markets.
As we come to increasingly rely on connected tech and even fully autonomous vehicles, the threat of cyberattack can be dangerous both financially and physically. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to better ensure supply chain cybersecurity.
Initiatives to Enhance Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is needed in virtually every industry in today’s highly digital world. Securing your systems, however, can be difficult without the right professional assistance and reliable data services.
But finding the right help can be a challenge in its own right. Information systems professionals are in high demand, especially in the manufacturing and supply sector, where experts with the right skill set can earn their piece of a $2.17 trillion market.
Additionally, all kinds of IT personnel can build a better approach to secure shipping logistics through strategies like the following:
1. Assess compliance standards across the board.
A variety of data security standards are present across industries, such as HIPAA in healthcare or PCI-DSS in retail. Ensure all third-party suppliers and vendors meet relevant standards to facilitate safer information transfer.
2. Secure your software.
Software can be a vulnerability in supply chains. Protect yours with firewalls, VPNs, Transport Layer Security (TLS), and more to better ensure the safety of your networks and equipment.
3. Limit and monitor access.
Every user should maintain their own strong passwords and clearances. Data systems like blockchain can be helpful in securing information behind individualized user authorization keys, complete with immutable timestamps recording access to the system.
4. Educate your employees.
Avoiding a data breach can come down to simply educating your employees on avoiding links from unknown senders. Ensure all shipping logistics workers understand the importance of strong private passwords and maintain an awareness of common phishing practices.
5. Continuously run vulnerability assessments.
Risk assessments should be run at consistent intervals to help keep systems updated and functioning with the protections they need. Your assessments should include all IoT devices and networked equipment that could present an access point for an attacker.
When it comes to securing the digital systems throughout your shipping logistics processes, each of these strategies can mean the difference between a data breach or a prevented hack. Ensure your current systems are protected by a thorough baseline of SSL and VPN usage. Then, keep your employees educated in digital hygiene.
Evolving Roles in Cybersecurity and Logistics
With a comprehensive and consistent analysis of your data systems, you can mitigate the potential of a costly cyber attack. As our use of tech increases, cybersecurity will continue to play a greater role in shipping logistics.
Much like how a barcode system is now essential to inventory management, digital tools and AI technology are essential to managing supply chains with a modern edge. Systems like delivery and route management software can be the perfect way to increase your shipping efficiency, but the payoff won’t be nearly as great if your systems are compromised by malware.
Roles within shipping logistics are changing in consideration of the virtual shift. Understand the shifting nature of the industry and implement cybersecurity best practices like these to better protect your supply chains.
This article is written by guest author Beau Peters. View more of Beau’s articles here.
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It is difficult to put into exact figures the effects the coronavirus pandemic has had on global industry. However, with manufacturers and supply chains across the world reeling with the ongoing problems the pandemic has presented, we are seeing a definite shift in the ways business is conducted.
Overall, factory shutdown and manufacturing delays have shrunk foreign direct investment by 5-15%, as global trade and supply is interrupted. But some businesses and industries—like toilet tissue, hand soaps and sanitizers, and face mask manufacturers—are experiencing a heavy increase in demand.
So how are these businesses coping with potential delays or limited access to materials? What does this global shift mean for manufacturers and supply chain managers of products that are especially high in demand?
Manufacturers in high demand during the pandemic must devise unique solutions to meet customer satisfaction while protecting employees. While these solutions are different for every industry, how paper products and food services are adjusting are a good indicator of common trends.
Paper companies have seen a 20% increase in orders during the pandemic, with worried individuals stocking up on products like toilet tissue for fear of being stuck inside without it. Additionally, the increased number of individuals either unemployed or working from home means more business for household toiletry and paper products. This means factories already operating on a 24/7 basis have had to increase production, hire on more workers, and buy out more materials, all while maintaining COVID safety recommendations.
Without maintaining employee safety, factories put themselves at risk of shutting down. This is especially vital in the foodservice industry, where workers have to constantly manage risks with shifting inventories.
Food and beverage companies are reevaluating their processes to maintain supply amidst high demand and limited access to materials. Coca-Cola, for instance, has experienced interruptions in shipments of certain sugar alternatives because of the pandemic. Usually, they acquired many of these materials from China, but the difficulties in trade amidst economic shutdowns and transportation complications have made international supply chains difficult to manage.
As a result, manufacturers are shifting to domestic sources. According to a recent survey, 64% of manufacturers believe reshoring is likely, meaning a return to domestic sources of materials and assemblage. This domestic trend can help manage manufacturers and supply chain needs for high-demand products, but the effect on foreign economies will be felt for a long time to come.
Supply Chain Management
Supply chains require vast amounts of data, mapping, and planning for successful, seamless functioning. In light of the pandemic, those that already had a sufficient map of supplier sites had a better understanding of where delays could be anticipated. But data is key here, and it has been the focus of a shift for manufacturers both experiencing increased demand and those that have not.
Supply chains are essential to the transportation and costs of goods, both for manufacturer and consumer. Every aspect of customer satisfaction and good business relies on an effective supply chain, and the coronavirus has impeded supply chains worldwide.
Because of this, industries with high demand are more reliant than ever on the effective mapping of suppliers and the use of data. They need constant, reliable resources to meet demand, and only the best information can assist in this endeavor.
This often means a digital mapping system on top of a “nomadic sourcing” strategy for the long term. Businesses have to adjust their suppliers depending on where they can effectively acquire materials. For example, if a recent outbreak has shut down a factory that makes a specific part needed for another manufacturer’s product, a back-up location must be mapped out and ties created.
Some businesses are adopting these strategies and back-ups now, amid the pandemic, while others were already more prepared with such strategies. Regardless, the emphasis on information and digital tools is creating a shift in the world of supply chain management, where big data and AI tech is increasingly being adopted.
As a result of this shift, the concerns of cyber-attacks are more prevalent than ever. In the digital world made necessary by COVID-19, cybersecurity is a vital element of supply chain management, especially for those providing products in high demand. Data can be highly valuable for hackers and the current 4 million-person shortage in the field of cybersecurity, according to the University of North Dakota, makes for a dangerous landscape for supply chains.
As the industry shifts, digital mapping, nomadic sourcing, and cybersecurity are all central focuses for supply chains managing high-demand products.
A Changing World Amidst the Pandemic
Manufacturers and supply chain managers are having to adjust on the fly to the challenges of a global pandemic, and that means shifting policies and procedures. From integrating safety and social distancing measures to protecting employees to ramping up production and domestic sourcing, modern business is adjusting to high-demand and plotting supply chains with advanced digital all in a challenging environment.
These trends will likely continue for years to come, with the reverberations felt across a wide variety of industries. In manufacturing and shipping, these changes may make for increased awareness and control over materials and supply chains, but only time will tell what the full effects of the pandemic will be on global trade at large.
This article is written by guest author Beau Peters. View more of Beau’s articles here.
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