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Building a Strong Cyber Defense: The Key to Manufacturing Security

Manufacturing facilities face many unique cybersecurity challenges. Security solutions for industrial environments, such as industrial edge microsegmentation and remote access point protection, help minimize these risks. Threats include:

  • Espionage for business competition, corporate rivalry, or financial reasons.
  • Opportunistic attackers are seeking proprietary data.
  • Attacks by nation-states.

These threats all have devastating effects, including revenue loss and reputational damage.


As manufacturing companies become more connected and digitized, they’re more at risk for cyber attacks. These attacks can result in intellectual property theft, a damaging downtime, product sabotage, and even threats to health and safety if equipment is hacked and control is lost. Manufacturers can improve their cybersecurity for manufacturing posture by following a dedicated framework. This will involve identifying their highest risk areas and taking practical steps to mitigate them, such as regularly updating systems, replacing older devices with more secure options, and inventorying connected devices. In addition to strengthening their cybersecurity, manufacturers can help protect their supply chain by demanding a solid security posture from their critical suppliers. This is especially important for manufacturers that rely on IoT-based industrial networks or connect to the Internet of Things (IoT) via industrial Ethernet switches that feature IWS technology. Attackers have increasingly targeted the manufacturing industry due to its comparatively low level of cybersecurity maturity, newfound connectivity in core processes, and difficulty securing complex environments. This has led to a 23% increase in ransomware attacks on manufacturers. Additionally, 7 in 10 ransomware attacks victimize small and medium-sized businesses – including those within the manufacturing supply chain. These smaller manufacturers can then suffer an extended downtime or halt production while waiting for their larger suppliers to recover from a ransomware attack.


For decades, manufacturing companies didn’t think they were attractive targets for threat actors. They thought the legacy equipment and industrial systems they used weren’t worth hacking into. However, these technologies are now connected to the internet and more vulnerable than ever. As the industry continues to push forward with new technology, it’s essential to have a solid plan for protecting against cyber threats. As companies have learned, when a manufacturing company’s system is breached, it impacts the entire supply chain. The ripple effect is significant, whether due to ransomware, a multifaceted extortion attack, or a data breach. The industry must prioritize a robust cybersecurity program to protect against the most severe attacks and keep the nation’s infrastructure running smoothly. The best way to protect against a manufacturing cyberattack is to be proactive and implement a robust cybersecurity program with a vulnerability management strategy. This will help ensure all vulnerabilities are patched and not left open for attackers to exploit. As a result, the company will have better protection against the most common attacks, such as phishing and ransomware.


The manufacturing industry requires a robust security protocol beyond antivirus software and firewalls. Manufacturers must have the tools to detect cyber threats before they cause significant damage and disrupt production. These tools must be accessible to small- and medium-sized manufacturers, many of whom don’t have in-house IT departments. Increasingly, factories are using intelligent manufacturing practices. These practices include automation and data collection using industrial Internet of Things (IoT) devices. While these systems provide huge advantages, they also open factory equipment and processes to attackers. Attackers seek to extort ransom, steal intellectual property, or cause operational disruptions to the business. In the past, air-gapped manufacturing equipment provided a modicum of protection against cyber attacks. However, this is no longer possible, as innovative manufacturing practices require more excellent network connectivity and industrial IoT sensing capabilities. Fortunately, modern cloud-based technologies can bring advanced analytics and machine learning to the problem of cybersecurity in manufacturing and help manufacturers prevent and respond to cyber-attacks. Any organization in the manufacturing sector, including supply chains that service the industry, is a prime target for cyberattacks. This is due to a combination of factors, including increased connectivity, the merger of operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT), and a lack of cybersecurity standards that match the pace of technological advancements.


Manufacturers have a lot going on in their facilities, with dangerous equipment operations and scores of employees to keep safe. But there are several other security threats they need to think about, from cyberattacks targeting production processes and stealing intellectual property to physical risks posed by criminals, vandals, or terrorism. The threat landscape for manufacturing is growing ever more complex and connected. As manufacturing goes digital, the attack surface expands to include systems that connect across factories and warehouses, traditional IT environments, and even remote locations. This means manufacturers must invest in a robust network, endpoint, and data security tools – including those for the operational technology (OT) environment. Cyberattacks against manufacturing companies can have significant financial impacts. For example, thefts of raw materials and finished goods can erode profitability. In addition, unauthorized access to research and development data can give competitors a leg up. The attacks can also have serious physical consequences. Industrial espionage can threaten the viability of production plants and lead to expensive repairs, while threats like ransomware can hold up production and damage reputation. A robust cybersecurity defense starts with having visibility into all of these risks and the ability to quickly and efficiently respond when there’s a problem. That requires a system that integrates, orchestrates, and manages the entire technology portfolio, providing actionable intelligence and a playbook for rapid response.

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