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Cybersecurity for Manufacturing: Risks & Best Practices

August 16, 202311 min read


Cybersecurity is no longer an optional or secondary concern for manufacturers. It is a vital and strategic necessity that affects every aspect of their business. According to a report by Deloitte and MAPI, 48% of manufacturers surveyed identified operational risks, which include cybersecurity, as the greatest danger to smart factory initiatives. Cyberattacks can disrupt production, compromise quality, damage equipment, expose intellectual property, and harm reputation.

In this guide, we will explore the current cybersecurity risks for manufacturers, especially in the context of Industry 4.0 and smart factory technologies. We will also discuss the consequences of cybersecurity breaches and the best practices to prevent and mitigate them. Finally, we will provide some resources and tools to help manufacturers assess and improve their cybersecurity posture.

Here are the key things you need to know about cybersecurity for manufacturing:

  • Cybersecurity risks for manufacturers are increasing as they adopt more digital technologies and connect their operational technologies (OT) to their information technologies (IT).
  • Cyberattacks can severely impact manufacturers, such as costly business disruptions and downtime, data loss and theft, regulatory fines and lawsuits, and reputational damage.
  • Manufacturers need to implement a holistic and proactive approach to cybersecurity that covers people, processes, and technology across their entire value chain.
  • Manufacturers need to follow cybersecurity standards and frameworks, such as NIST SP 800171 and NIST SP 180010, to protect their systems and data from cyber threats.
  • Manufacturers need to leverage cybersecurity resources and tools, such as NIST MEP Cybersecurity Resources for Manufacturers and NIST SP 180010 Protecting Information and System Integrity in Industrial Control System Environments: Cybersecurity for the Manufacturing Sector, to assess and improve their cybersecurity capabilities.

[Table of Contents]

Current Cybersecurity Risks for Manufacturers

Manufacturers face a variety of cybersecurity risks that can affect their operations, assets, data, customers, suppliers, and partners. Some of the most common and critical risks are:

  • Industry 4.0: Industry 4.0 is the term used to describe the digital transformation of manufacturing that leverages technologies such as IoT, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, additive manufacturing (AM), and big data analytics. These technologies enable manufacturers to improve their efficiency, quality, flexibility, and innovation. However, they also introduce new cybersecurity challenges as they increase the complexity and connectivity of the OT systems that control industrial processes. OT systems were traditionally isolated from IT systems and the internet, but now they are exposed to cyber threats that can exploit their vulnerabilities or interfere with their functionality.
  • Ransomware: Ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware) that encrypts the victim's data or systems and demands a ransom for their decryption or restoration. Ransomware is a top threat for manufacturers because it can cause significant operational disruptions and financial losses. According to IBM Security's 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report, ransomware attacks accounted for nearly onethird of all cyberattacks in 2021 and had an average total cost of $4.62 million per incident. Manufacturers are particularly vulnerable to ransomware attacks because they rely on continuous production cycles and often lack adequate backup systems or recovery plans.
  • Supply chain attacks: Supply chain attacks are cyberattacks that target third party vendors or service providers that have access to or influence over the target's systems or data. Supply chain attacks are a top threat for manufacturers because they can result in data theft, disruption to operations, compromise of product quality or safety, and damage to customer trust. Supply chain attacks continue to rise. Manufacturers need to be aware of the cybersecurity risks posed by their suppliers, contractors, distributors, and other partners, and ensure that they have adequate security controls and monitoring in place.

Consequences of Cybersecurity Breaches

Cybersecurity breaches can have devastating consequences for manufacturers, both in the short term and the long term. Some of these consequences are:

  • Costly business disruptions and downtime: Cyberattacks can disrupt or halt production processes, damage equipment or machinery, affect product quality or safety, or compromise customer orders or deliveries. These disruptions can result in significant operational and financial losses, as well as contractual penalties or legal liabilities. According to a study by IBM Security and the Ponemon Institute, the average time to identify and contain a data breach in 2021 was 287 days, which means that manufacturers could face prolonged periods of downtime or reduced productivity.
  • Severe data loss or theft: Cyberattacks can compromise the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of the data that manufacturers collect, store, process, or share. This data can include sensitive information such as intellectual property, trade secrets, customer data, employee data, financial data, or regulatory data. Data loss or theft can result in competitive disadvantage, reputational damage, regulatory fines or lawsuits, or identity theft or fraud.
  • Reputational damage or loss of trust: Cyberattacks can damage the reputation or trust of manufacturers among their customers, suppliers, partners, regulators, investors, or employees. This can affect their market share, customer loyalty, supplier relationships, partner collaborations, regulatory compliance, investor confidence, or employee morale. According to a survey by PwC, 69% of consumers said they would stop doing business with an organization that suffered a cyber breach, which means that manufacturers could lose a significant portion of their customer base or revenue.

Cybersecurity for Manufacturing: 5 Steps for Getting Started

Cybersecurity is a vital aspect of any business, but especially for manufacturing. Manufacturing plants rely on complex systems and processes that can be vulnerable to cyberattacks. A cyberattack can disrupt production, damage equipment, compromise data, and harm customers. Therefore, it is essential for manufacturers to take proactive steps to protect their assets and operations from cyber threats.

In this blog post, we will outline five steps manufacturers can follow to get started with cybersecurity. These steps are:

1. Understand the risks and identify gaps
2. Know your compliance requirements
3. Develop a cybersecurity response plan
4. Implement strong access control
5. Protect your critical systems and data

Let's dive into each step in more detail.

#1. Understand the Risks & Identify Gaps

The first step to improving your cybersecurity is to understand the risks that you face and identify the gaps in your current security posture. To do this, you need to conduct a risk assessment. A risk assessment is a process of identifying, analyzing, and evaluating the potential threats and vulnerabilities that could affect your manufacturing plant.

A risk assessment can help you answer questions such as:

What are the most valuable assets that you need to protect?
What are the most likely threats that could target your assets?
What are the potential impacts of a successful cyberattack on your assets?
How prepared are you to prevent, detect, and respond to a cyberattack?

By completing a risk assessment, you can prioritize the most critical risks and allocate resources accordingly. You can also identify the security gaps that need to be addressed. Security gaps are the weaknesses or flaws in your security controls that could be exploited by attackers.

To learn more about how to conduct a risk assessment, check out this blog post on security audits

#2. Know Your Compliance Requirements

The second step to improving your cybersecurity is to know your compliance requirements. Compliance requirements are the rules and standards you must follow to meet the expectations of your customers, regulators, and industry partners.

Compliance requirements can vary depending on the type and size of your manufacturing plant, as well as the industry that you operate in. For example, if you manufacture medical devices or pharmaceuticals, you may need to comply with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. If you manufacture defense or aerospace products, you may need to comply with the Department of Defense (DoD) regulations.

Compliance requirements can help you improve cybersecurity by providing a framework and best practices for implementing security controls. However, compliance does not guarantee security. You still need to go beyond compliance and adopt a proactive and comprehensive approach to cybersecurity.

#3. Develop a Cybersecurity Response Plan

The third step to improving your cybersecurity is to develop a cybersecurity response plan. A cybersecurity response plan is a document that outlines how you will handle a cyber incident if it occurs.

A cybersecurity response plan can help you:

Define roles and responsibilities for your security team and other stakeholders
Establish procedures and protocols for detecting, containing, analyzing, and resolving cyber incidents
Communicate effectively with internal and external parties during and after a cyber incident
Document lessons learned and implement improvements for future incidents

A cybersecurity response plan can help you minimize the impact of a cyberattack and restore normal operations as quickly as possible. It can also demonstrate your commitment and readiness to your customers, regulators, and industry partners.

To develop a cybersecurity response plan, you need to:

  • Identify the types of cyber incidents that could affect your manufacturing plant
  • Assess the potential impacts and consequences of each type of incident
  • Define the objectives and goals for responding to each type of incident
  • Assign roles and responsibilities for each stage of the incident response process
  • Establish procedures and protocols for each stage of the incident response process
  • Create communication plans for internal and external parties
  • Test and update your plan regularly

#4. Implement Strong Access Control

The fourth step to improving your cybersecurity is to implement strong access control. Access control is the process of granting or denying access to your systems, data, and resources based on predefined rules and policies.

Access control can help you:

  • Prevent unauthorized access to your sensitive or confidential information
  • Limit the exposure of your systems and data to potential threats
  • Reduce the risk of human error or insider threats
  • Monitor and audit user activity and behavior

To implement strong access control, you need to:

  • Define who can access what, when, where, how, and why
  • Enforce the principle of least privilege, which means granting users only the minimum level of access they need to perform their tasks
  • Implement multifactor authentication (MFA), which means requiring users to provide more than one piece of evidence (such as a password and a code) to verify their identity
  • Use password managers, such as TeamPassword, to generate, store, and share strong and unique passwords for your apps and services
  • Review and update your access policies and permissions regularly

TeamPassword is a password manager designed for teams and businesses. It can help you manage your passwords securely and efficiently across your devices and platforms. With TeamPassword, you can:

To learn more about TeamPassword and how it can help you improve your access control, visit: https://teampassword.com/

#5. Protect Your Critical Systems & Data

The fifth and final step to improving your cybersecurity is to protect your critical systems and data. Your critical systems and data are the ones that are essential for your manufacturing operations and that would cause significant harm if compromised.

To protect your critical systems and data, you need to implement various security measures and best practices, such as:

  • Install firewalls: Firewalls are devices or software that filter the incoming and outgoing network traffic and block or allow it based on predefined rules. Firewalls can help you prevent unauthorized or malicious access to your systems and data.
  • Use encryption: Encryption is the process of transforming data into an unreadable format that can only be decrypted with a key. Encryption can help you protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your data in transit and at rest.
  • Install antivirus software: Antivirus software is a program that detects, prevents, and removes malware (such as viruses, worms, trojans, ransomware, etc.) from your systems. Antivirus software can help you protect your systems from infection and damage.
  • Create data backups: Data backups are copies of your data that are stored in a separate location from the original source. Data backups can help you recover your data in case of loss, corruption, or deletion due to a cyberattack or other disaster.

These are some of the basic security measures and best practices that you can implement to protect your critical systems and data. However, there are many more that you can explore and adopt depending on your specific needs and circumstances.

Secure Your Manufacturing Data With TeamPassword

Cybersecurity is not a one-time project or a checkbox item. It is an ongoing process that requires constant attention and improvement. By following these five steps, you can get started with cybersecurity and build a strong foundation for your manufacturing plant.

However, cybersecurity is not something that you can do alone. You need to involve your entire team, from the top management to the shop floor workers. You also need to partner with experts and vendors who can provide you with the tools and services that you need.

At TeamPassword, we are committed to helping you improve your cybersecurity by providing you with a password manager that is secure, easy to use, and tailored for teams. If you want to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today or sign up for a free trial.

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