Cyber Security Best Practices

Manufacturers Cyber Security Best Practices

Randy Duxbury Cybersecurity

Not only are Cyber attacks on manufacturers and fabricators skyrocketing, but the cost of dealing with the fallout is also increasing, as the average ransomware payments are up 33 percent. The damage to manufacturers is not just the cost of a potential ransom but also the potential shut down in production. With businesses shutting down for an average of two weeks after a cyber incident, you can’t afford to take a chance. With such high stakes involved, it is more important than ever for manufacturers to implement complex Cyber Security safety measures.

Why Manufacturers?

As cyber criminals have begun to move away from selling stolen data towards holding data ransom, manufacturers have become a focused target because few can afford to shut down for an extended period of time. Cyber criminals use malware delivered through phishing attacks that take control and shut down manufacturing equipment unless they are paid a ransom. Ransomware can spread quickly in manufacturing facilities since the industry has quickly embraced interconnected devices.

Manufacturers who are unable to function after an attack end up causing disruptions throughout the supply chain. Shutdowns due to COVID-19 are damaging enough but may be understandable to customers and partners. Shutdowns due to ransomware on the other hand may be inexcusable, especially if the attack was preventable.

Overall, as the pandemic has unfolded, cyber criminals have shifted their tactics and focus. All employees working from home, not just in manufacturing, present exploitable openings to cyber criminals unless proper precautions are taken. Reports show that more than half of the organizations polled transitioned to remote work for the first-time during quarantine.

Cyber Security Best Practices:

#1 Inventory of Data

Every company has unique categories of data. The larger a business grows, the harder it becomes to keep track of all the data stored within a company’s system without an up-to-date inventory of the data at hand.

To prevent any possible confusion or oversight regarding the data in your system, keep an inventory of all the layers of data your company stores. All organizational IT departments have a responsibility of keeping track of all available IT inventory. In particular, the IT inventory should include tracking issues such as compliance regulations, licenses for software programs, updates, contracts, etc.

#2 Identify Highly Sensitive Data

Every company stores data and all data is of some value, but not all data is of equal value. By breaking the data down into hierarchies of importance, priority can be given to the most sensitive data. Here is an example:

Confidential – To include the private information of customers, such as Social Security numbers, credit card information, and street addresses.

Sensitive – This tier would include private information about your company, such as tax records.

Internal – This grouping would cover information intended to be shared among staff, such as designs, recipes, formulas, and other company secrets.

#3 Emergency Protocols for Data Loss

One of the worst things that can happen is a data breach. When confidential info is leaked or compromised, it can ruin the trust of thousands of customers and in many cases, the authorities never identify the perpetrators, while the affected businesses remain subject to lawsuits. Therefore, even with all the steps you implement to protect your data, it is still crucial to establish Emergency Procedures in the event of data loss.

If your company is ever hit by cyber criminals, report the matter to your Incident Response Team immediately. All company personnel must understand the necessary steps so they can take action the moment they realize there is a breach.

With an established set of Emergency Protocols, it is easier to coordinate recovery efforts and prevent problems from getting out of hand.

#4 Protect Against Phishing

Cyber criminals often obtain classified data through a tactic known as phishing, which involves the use of deceptive emails that trick readers into clicking on malware links or giving up private info. Phishing scams are often related to news events and seasonal themes to sound legitimate. When cyber criminals phish customer info from businesses, their goal is typically to pose as a company representative and scam customers out of money in the company’s name.

Make sure all company personnel know how to spot phishing schemes. The biggest red flags are emails that directly request personal info, or that send recipients to links with instructions to fill out personal info. Never click a link in an email message from an unknown or unverified source.

#5 Data Protection for IoT Settings

As manufacturing companies adopt the Internet of Things (IoT), in which moving and stationary mechanical devices are connected with computer systems, it is now crucial to ensure the security of each device linked to a company’s system.

When implementing IoT within your company infrastructure, inspect each new device’s security capabilities before linking it to the company system. Moreover, any company that implements IoT should establish contingencies for worst-case scenarios involving the storage and transfer of data through such devices.

Given the twofold issue of increased security threats and the new range of vulnerability IoT entails, the manufacturing sector must implement an advanced set of cyber-protocols. The basic steps toward eliminating risk should start with a defensive approach.

#6 Be Aware of Social Engineering

One of the most deceptive threats to the security of a business is social engineering, which would account for any ruse cyber criminals devise to trick employees into giving up information that could render a company vulnerable. These professional thieves have pulled off social engineering ploys with success in various forms across a range of social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

A common tactic among perpetrators of social engineering schemes is to trick employees into downloading fake antivirus software that contains spyware. Simply by downloading one of these software programs, an employee could subject their computer, and possibly all computers on the company network, to a cyber attack. Therefore, it is crucial to train employees on how to spot social engineering and not be taken in by such scams.

The Future… Cyber Security & Manufacturing

As IoT takes over in the manufacturing sector, cyber criminals will find new ways to hijack a company’s production processes. For example, an external party seeking to botch a line of products could remotely access robotic production assemblies. The intrusion may go undetected, devastating a company beyond recovery.

A cyber criminal could alter the temperature of welding equipment along the production line preventing the metal from bonding tightly. Again, the difference might initially go undetected, but the finished products could be compromised. Depending on how much time passes between the intrusion and its discovery, a company could face untold financial loss, reputation damage, and a costly recall.

Don’t Fall Victim To A Cyber Attack

Cyber attacks cripple small businesses daily, costing them Thousands or Millions of dollars in damages. Fearing’s has the tools necessary to ensure you have properly protected your company against losses from cyber attacks. We’d Love To Talk To You About Cyber Security.