Given that businesses across nearly all industries have been using computers for several decades now, you would think that Cybersecurity would be a non-issue. It is natural to assume that companies would, by default, have robust systems in place to deal with the threats they face after all this time. Unfortunately, this is not the case. 

Many people still have a set-it-and-forget-it attitude towards cybersecurity. They think in terms of things like antivirus software and firewalls. You set up a few programs on your computer or network, and they block all the threats for you. This kind of approach to cybersecurity is appealing but leaves you with several vulnerabilities that bad actors are all too willing to exploit. 

Fending off all the threats that businesses face in 2021 and beyond will require a robust, multipronged approach to cybersecurity.

More Vulnerable Than They Realize

While many business owners are aware of some of the cybersecurity threats their companies face, they may not be mindful of the extent of the problem. It is easy to underestimate both your own company’s level of exposure, as well as the global scope of these vulnerabilities.

Unfortunately, a large number of businesses have persistent unaddressed data vulnerabilities. According to Varonis, as recently as 2018, a staggering percentage of companies had a surprising amount of insecure data. After analyzing 5.5 petabytes of data (6.2 billion files) from 130 companies, Varonis found that 58% of companies have over 100,000 unsecured file folders and 41% have over 1000 sensitive files that were entirely unsecured.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The simple fact is that many businesses are unwittingly offering up a buffet of sensitive data for bad actors to steal. Thankfully, by using the right equipment as a part of your multipronged cybersecurity strategy, you can start to eliminate many of these vulnerabilities.

Unexpected Threats from Unexpected Places

Those with a set-it-and-forget-it mindset regarding cybersecurity probably still assume that their greatest threats come from suspicious emails. All you have to do is install some anti-virus software, train your staff to avoid clicking the wrong emails and downloading the wrong attachments, and you’re safe. 

While that’s true for certain kinds of attacks, like phishing and ransomware, bad actors in the digital space have several tools at their disposal to compromise your business and data. Focusing exclusively on email-based threats leaves a business open to security breaches on fronts many people would not expect. 

Supply Chain Attacks

Often, the place your data is most vulnerable is not even on your own server or data network. In today’s marketplace, manufacturers send and receive large quantities of sensitive data from their vendors and other partners. While these digital connections foster greater communication and increased operational efficiency, they also mean that you have less direct control over your data and who has access to it.

Supply chain attacks have become increasingly popular among cybercriminals. Indeed, some highest-profile industrial data breaches, such as the 2013 Target Data Breach, resulted from supply chain attacks. These attacks occur when a hacker accesses your company’s data through a supply chain partner with access to those systems. They use the digital link between companies to access your server and steal your data. 

All of this means we no longer live in a world where you only have to worry about your own network’s security. The only way to guard yourself against supply chain attacks is to vet your partners’ cybersecurity measures as well. Don’t let someone else’s lax attitude towards cybersecurity hurt your business. A supply chain’s data is only secure as its weakest link, and your data is not safe unless your partners are up to snuff when it comes to cybersecurity.

IoT Attacks

We are in the middle of a massive sea change in how we manufacture and deliver goods to customers. Under an Industry 4.0 framework, digital sensors across the supply chain constantly generate and transmit data to one another to maximize efficiency and productivity. These digital sensors are part of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), a vast network of interconnected machines and devices that are not computers. While all of this data sharing is great for self-optimization and efficiency, it represents one more digital entry-point hackers can break into.

IoT devices often get overlooked when it comes to cybersecurity, leaving many manufacturers open to attacks. Some factories have hundreds of IIoT devices, each representing a potential vulnerability. If IIoT devices are connected to operation critical machinery, an attack can completely paralyze manufacturing output. Production stoppages like these are costly, and it can take many manufacturers a long time to get back on their feet after an IoT attack. 

Fortunately, there are concrete steps you can take to secure your IIoT devices, such as: ensuring all of your software and firmware are up to date on each of your devices, developing risk assessment modules based on the size of your IIoT network, actively monitoring device settings and configurations, and data encryption. Together, these steps can help protect your IIoT network from malicious actors looking to compromise your data.

Intellectual Property Theft

Outside of ransomware attacks, intellectual property attacks can be among the most devastating types of data breaches a company can face. Many modern companies live and die on their IP. We live in a world where IP alone can be responsible for more than 80% of a company’s value.  While large companies may survive IP theft, in part because they have the legal budgets to pursue the perpetrators and those that benefit from the robbery, many smaller manufacturers simply cannot survive their intellectual property being stolen.

Unfortunately, IP theft is easier than ever in our hyper-connected world. Especially terrifying is the fact that, according to Deloitte, “because the information exists in the form of data rather than, say, manila folders in file cabinets, a breach might remain undiscovered for weeks or months.” 

What are manufacturers to do in the face of this threat to their trade secrets? It can seem like a daunting challenge, yet there a few surprisingly simple protocols you can quickly implement to protect your company’s precious IP. For instance, you can enhance the security of your IP by limiting the number of accounts that have access to sensitive IP-related files. Further, Industrial Panel PCs with built-in RFID and biometric scanning peripherals can be used for 2-factor authentication, limiting internal access to sensitive files and making it harder for someone who is not physically on-site to access your sensitive data. 

An organization must also be wary of low-tech attacks. Stealing an entire computer to access the hard drive at a remote location is more common than one might think. Having a mini rugged computer with removable hard drives is a low-tech solution to prevent low-tech data breaches. Simply remove the hard drives at the end of the day and lock them in a secure location, and then put them back at the start of the next day. 

Final Thoughts

As time marches further into the 20th century, hackers and other digital bad actors will develop increasingly sophisticated methods of accessing sensitive industrial data. Cybersecurity efforts must be equally sophisticated to keep up. To find out how the right hardware can help you secure your important data, contact the experts at Cybernet Manufacturing today!