With increased risk of cyber threats, cyber-related terms like cyberattack, hacking, ransomware, and phishing have become part of our everyday vocabulary. Protecting businesses from these threats has become more complex—and that doesn’t stop at the big guys.
Attackers often ask for money, try to steal, or manipulate data for their benefit, all of which can impact your business. One thing that has become more prevalent and turned into a real threat for manufacturing companies is the theft of proprietary information, such as intellectual property.
Intellectual property refers to information only a few key people have access to that is needed for your business to stay open and be successful. Hackers can sell this proprietary information to competitors, use it themselves, or use it against your company. If you have a secret recipe that makes your brand a favorite with customers and another company steals the secret and incorporates it in their product, you may lose some market share. The cyber theft of proprietary data is quickly becoming a favorite with cybercriminals.
As a manufacturing company, you likely have devices, equipment, and systems that may be vulnerable to cyberattacks. Most of these devices fall into two categories—IT (information technology) or OT (operational technology). IT is related to hardware and software that makes your data management faster, more reliable, and more accurate. It includes PCs, smartphones, networks, and more. OT, on the other hand, controls the physical world. The devices that are managed by OT are called ICS (industrial control systems). An example is the control system that you are using to monitor and run your factory floor. Your SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) control architecture is often the link between your IT and OT systems—the gateway from one to the other.
Most manufacturers have some IT protection in place. They might use solid firewalls, encrypted/lengthy passwords, and two-factor authentication for any financial transfers. Many have added sound cybersecurity practices and policies, like training employees on how to spot phishing emails, backing systems up to be less affected by potential ransomware attacks, and more.
However, one area that is often overlooked by manufacturers is OT, which may be outdated and less protected than their IT. If an attack on your OT is successful, it can easily move to your IT systems and cause many issues. Make sure to protect your OT systems as well.
So, why am I bringing this up? I want to make sure you are aware of the many ways cybercriminals can get into your systems and that they may be after more than money. They might go after one of your most prized assets—your proprietary information.
Cybersecurity needs to be a priority. It is important to have plans in place that fully protect you and your business 24/7.