Cyber Armor for Manufacturers: Defending Against Digital Threats
Today, the technological advances available to support manufacturers in improving efficiency, streamlining operations, and improving profit margins are nothing short of impressive. Manufacturing businesses are now using more technology than ever to boost productivity. While that's a good thing and not something to limit, it also comes with some risks.
Companies absolutely need to have a way to minimize the cybersecurity threats that impact them with this new access to technology. Luckily, your company does not have to avoid technology but can affordably invest in the right insurance products and tools to minimize risk.
Understanding the Threat Landscape
Manufacturing company business owners need to protect operations and data from cyber threats while increasing access and use of this type of technology. How do you do that? It starts with understanding what these threats are and then creating a strong defense against digital adversaries.
Why manufacturers? Manufacturers are a prime target for cybercriminals. These professional online thieves recognize that manufacturing companies are dealing with large amounts of data, often data that involves large Fortune 500 companies as well as those companies' intellectual property. These criminals also recognize the sheer volume of data and access to financial information that becomes available if they can tap into these databases.
That creates incredible risk for manufacturers. Threats are numerous and typically ever-changing. They include risks such as:
- Ransomware: Ransomware is a type of malicious software product that gains access to a company's computer system and database and then holds it hostage, locking out the owner's access until a sum of money is paid.
- Phishing: Phishing is a practice that involves outright lies about being a reputable company or service to gain access to personal information, company secrets, or customer data.
- Insider attacks: These are threats from within your company, including the access and selling of sensitive information to competitors or others simply because it is accessible.
- Supply chain vulnerabilities: Companies can be put at risk of financial loss if changes to supply chains occur, and in some situations, this occurs as a result of malicious activity.
- Industrial espionage: From a cybersecurity vantage point, industrial espionage is the discovery of a rival company's manufacturing secrets or other information to use unethically.
That is on top of cybersecurity threats related to typical scams and viruses. The risks are often stacked against companies –if they do not have a plan in place to deal with them.
Consequences of a Cyber Attack
What could this type of risk lead to, though? Consider a likely situation. A person manages to gain access to company data. What could they do with that? They could steal it and sell it, they could gain access to sensitive customer database information, exposing your clients to identity theft, or they may hold it against you. These are real, everyday occurrences. Some of the most common risks include:
- Financial losses
- Damage to reputation
- Intellectual property theft
- Regulatory issues
- Operational disruptions
Building a Cyber Armor
What can you do to avoid this? In many cases, it's about prevention and putting the right tools and resources in place now to minimize future risks. Here's what should be a part of your cyber armor.
Educate employees about cybersecurity risk
One of the most significant risks is employee mistakes. A lack of knowledge may allow an employee to click on a link in an email that exposes the company to such risks. By teaching employees about these risks, it is possible to reduce significant exposure.
Secure network infrastructure with firewalls and encryption
Just as technology is growing to create better reach, it's also expanding to offer new ways to reduce risks. The use of firewalls and encryption can help companies to create a layer of protection from some of these risks. The key is using the most modern and up-to-date strategies to achieve this.
Regularly back up and secure data
Having a backup system in place that gathers and secures sensitive data and files is key. This can help to minimize the impact a ransomware attack can have on the business, allowing it to continue to operate even if someone gains access. More so, backup data tools can help in cases where technology fails and sensitive data is lost.
Assess and monitor vendor cybersecurity practices
Putting in place a network of vendors that take cybersecurity as seriously as you do is also important. It allows you to minimize the long-term impact that can happen if your company's information is accessed through a vendor or third-party relationship.
Implement multifactor authentication (MFA)
This is a method that trips up cyber thieves because it makes it much more difficult for them to gain access just with one component of identification. If an employee's password is exposed, for example, this system requires a second layer of information to gain access, therefore adding more protection.
Develop an incident response plan
What happens when something happens? A well-thought-out plan can help organizations to comprehensively improve the longevity of their business simply by knowing what to do when there's a risk.
Continuously monitor network activity
The next step is to have a plan in place to monitor the network for any unusual activity, such as people gaining access to areas or data they should not. Taking these steps can help organizations to amplify their security.
Conduct regular security audits
Having an organization provide security audits can enable companies to gain a better level of understanding of what is happening within their organization. If there are holes or potential gaps in security, finding them before the cybercriminals is essential.
Find the Right Solutions to Protect Your Business
Manufacturing companies need a strong cybersecurity solution in place to protect themselves from digital threats. This is no longer an option but a necessary investment to keep your business operating and to ensure long-term success and resilience.