Industry 4.0 – The manufacturing industry faces heightened cyber-security risks as the sector continues to digitise and adopt automation like never before

Published: 21 October 2021
Published: 21 October 2021

Despite this, it is also one of the least protected and is therefore more likely to experience a data breach.

The fourth industrial revolution – increasing digitisation means increased risk

In the past, firms in the manufacturing industry did not need to connect their industrial control systems to the internet, but with the arrival of Industry 4.0 – also known as the fourth industrial revolution – the manufacturing industry is becoming more data-driven.

The industry is continuing to use smart technology to automate its systems and industrial practices, as AI, cloud computing, and robotics are introduced into factories – a trend that is only set to continue.

These automated systems help the manufacturing industry by integrating all aspects of the supply chain – from operational to information systems – creating greater efficiency in production, better quality products, and more flexible working processes.

However, as information technology (IT) converges with operational technology (OT) within the industry, manufacturing firms also become more susceptible to cybercrime.

Cyber security risks faced by the manufacturing industry

Modern factories have more entry points for cybercriminals to gain access

Manufacturing is one of the most complex infrastructure sectors, with a huge variety in suppliers and business models – as well as processes, equipment, and manufacturing methods – across the industry.

Alongside this, the introduction of smart technology in factories and integrated supply chains, from suppliers to logistics providers and retailers, means a cybercriminal could gain access to the whole system through any point in the network.  Without strong cyber security, every device is a potential backdoor through which a cybercriminal could enter.

The effects of a cyber-attack could be more severe

As part of Industry 4.0, factory machinery is becoming more connected. This means that, if a hacker were to attack any part of the manufacturing process, such as hacking a machine remotely to make it malfunction, there could be a ripple effect on the entire production process, leading to costly disruptions, faulty products, or ceased production. A cybercriminal may also use remote hacking to block production for ransom. Any of these eventualities would cause disruptions in the supply chain, costing both manufacturers and their clients.

The manufacturing industry lacks cyber security experience

Industry 4.0 is still a relatively new concept and so, as manufacturers may be adopting new technology at a fast pace for the first time, this means they are without experience of the potential risks that come with it.

This lack of knowledge when it comes to cyber-security can make manufacturing firms a target for cybercriminals, as without an awareness of the threats, employees in the industry may not be able to identify them. In particular, firms could be more vulnerable to phishing or SMSishing attacks, which take advantage of users, not the systems themselves

The risk of intellectual property theft

Intellectual property (IP) theft is a risk for manufacturing firms in relation to their IT assets. As information is increasingly stored and accessed from connected devices such as smartphones, laptops, and control panels, cybercriminals have more opportunity to infiltrate networks and potentially steal intellectual property of information for competitor advantage.

Consider implementing basic measures to ensure a level of cyber-security, such as:

Use 2FA – Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication requires users to provide a secondary form of verification, such as a fingerprint or one-time passcode, before access to accounts is granted. According to Microsoft, 99.9% of cyber-attacks fail where 2FA is enabled, meaning multi-factor authentication should be implemented everywhere it can be.

Increase employee awareness

One of the best defences in minimising cyber-attacks is by educating employees. If they are aware of the signs of a cyber-attack, any incidents that are not picked up by technology are likely to be detected at an earlier stage.

Backup data regularly

Ensuring data is backed up correctly is essential. When it comes to backup, you should first identify the business-critical data that you couldn’t operate without – this is the data you will need to backup.

Backup data should always be kept separately from computers and primary data stores. Consider using Cloud solutions to store your data – our flexible Cloud solution means you can choose what you want backed up and how often.

Our cyber-security health checks

As the manufacturing industry continues to adopt new technologies, businesses are more likely to fall victim to a cyber-attack. Implementing cyber-security measures is an essential component for businesses when it comes to operating efficiently and safely.

We can provide a free, no obligation cyber-security health check to ensure you’re not the next victim of a cyber-attack. Our checks provide businesses with a snapshot of their cyber-security health status, helping to identify vulnerabilities, whilst also providing the tools to defend against cyber-threats.

If you would like to speak to one of our experts regarding cyber-security, or would like to arrange a free health check, please get in touch.

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