protecting client data


10th April, 2024

6 Tips for Cybersecurity in Manufacturing to Stay Ahead of Threats

Technology can be a double-edged sword for Australian manufacturing businesses.

Evolutions like AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) mean greater productivity, but increasing reliance on technology presents malicious actors with new opportunities. 

In 2022, Manufacturing businesses accounted for 23% of all cybersecurity attacks.

As the target of nearly 1 in 4 cyberattacks, what precautions should you take? In this guide, we’ll explain how you can improve cybersecurity in manufacturing. 

Threats to Cybersecurity in Manufacturing

Cybersecurity statistics
Nearly a quarter of successful cyberattacks targeted manufacturing companies. Image from Statista.

So why is the manufacturing industry at increased cybersecurity risk? Lets look at some of the areas that are unique to Manufacturing that may be a desirable target for a cybercriminal

  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Physical devices with sensors connect to your networks. Out-of-date hardware and software are easily exploited by bad actors.
  • Robotics and industrial control systems. Operational technology can rely on local or network computing resources, which hackers can gain access to.
  • AI and ML. Mainly used by manufacturers for predictive algorithms in supply chain management. Cyberattacks can grind production to a halt.
  • 5G and cloud computing. Remote support teams using a cloud contact centre platform create new hackable surfaces. 
  • Data analytics. Data warehousing and business intelligence are prime targets. Hackers may expose proprietary data or intellectual property, or undertake ransomware attacks.

6 Tips to Improve Cybersecurity in Manufacturing

Accordingly, with such a high amount of risk in the manufacturing sector, it’s vital to take steps to protect your business. Here are six tips to get you started:

Perform a risk and maturity assessment

Firstly, start by assessing the current state of your cybersecurity. Look at your current controls, policies, and procedures. When was the last time you updated these? How well trained are your staff, and is security embedded in your company’s culture?

Secondly, perform a cybersecurity risk assessment. Take note of which systems are most vulnerable to attacks, and industry best practice for mitigating those risks.

Check who has access to networks and connected devices – especially smart devices as these increase the amount of cyber risk.

Evaluate and update IT infrastructure

During your risk assessment, you might find a significant amount of legacy systems, or that you’re more reliant on monolithic architecture than you realise.

Much of this critical infrastructure may never have been intended to  connect to the internet, and are particularly at risk of cyber attack.

A cost/benefit analysis will help you understand what to replace, and what to update. An upfront investment can save you from financial loss and ensure you meet cybersecurity regulations.

Create password policies

Make sure you have clear password policies, and provide training on them. The policies should include:

  • Passwords require special characters and both lower and uppercase letters.
  • Use two-factor authentication (2FA) or multifactor authentication (MFA) 
  • Don’t use password managers unless vetted by the IT team
  • Avoid writing down passwords or hints to them
  • Use unique passwords for different software applications

These solutions aren’t bulletproof. They still depend on your team following proper device and app usage policies. For example, signing into company applications on personal devices puts their password at risk.

Choose a cybersecurity framework

Any strategy works better when it’s guided by a plan.

Also, use a cybersecurity framework to instil a cybersecurity culture with a preventative approach. One example is Essential Eight, a framework developed by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ASCS). 

Following a framework gives you a battle plan on how to mitigate data breaches and other threats. They also ensure your organisation stays compliant with local regulations. 

Write an incident response plan

Cybersecurity statistics
The ASD reported over 1,100 cybersecurity incidents between 2022 and 2023. Image from ASD

The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) responded to over 1,100 cybersecurity incidents from July 2022 to June 2023. Despite your best efforts, prepare for the worst!

Additionally, collaborate with primary stakeholders, supply chain partners, and your IT experts to create an incident response plan. Taking rapid action can help you minimise the damage and speed up the resolution process.  

Things to include in the incident response plan:

  • How to communicate a cybersecurity breach to employees, customers, and others in the supply chain.
  • Protocols for defining the severity and scope of cybersecurity threats
  • Identify who will take the lead in areas such as public relations and IT.
  • How to update those affected and follow up with compensation if needed.

Implement Cybersecurity in Manufacturing Training

Make cybersecurity training part of your onboarding and continuous learning processes. Also, consider outsourcing training to cybersecurity experts, or asking their input on your educational materials. 

You could also leverage residential proxies as part of your security infrastructure to enhance online privacy and protect sensitive data.

Additionally, they provide secure remote access and anonymous browsing, which can contribute to a safer online environment for your manufacturing operations.

Once you’ve created training materials, add them to your staff handbooks and learning management system. This way, your team will have easy access to cybersecurity best practices.

Protect Your Manufacturing Company from Cybersecurity Threats

Cybersecurity in the manufacturing industry needs your attention right now.

With money — and your reputation — at stake, it’s time to update your cybersecurity procedures and your IT infrastructure.

Also, make sure you put a framework in place and implement cybersecurity initiatives.

Change the culture of your company, and make sure everyone understands the threat landscape in industrial manufacturing.

Before you know it, armies of cyberattackers will be retreating in disappointment.