Cyber Threats to Manufacturing Companies and Ways to Mitigate

Bhagyashri Kambale | March 04, 2022 | 362 views
CYBER THREATS TO MANUFACTURING
Cyber manufacturing is a term that refers to a modern manufacturing system that allows for asset management, reconfiguration, and productivity maintenance in a way that is easy to see and use.

Industry 4.0 anticipates an era of enormous opportunity for innovation and prosperity. Additionally, it introduces new risks and challenges in today's manufacturing cyber scene.

“Cybersecurity is starting to become more prevalent within organizations, so opportunities to grow in this industry will never end if you have the correct drive and determination.”

– Joe Boyle, SEO of SaltDNA

Numerous manufacturing organizations are experiencing an increase in cyber-attacks on control systems used to oversee industrial processes. Some of these systems may include programmable logic controllers and distributed control systems, as well as embedded systems and industrial Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

To help you develop a strong and secure manufacturing operation, this article will outline the multiple sorts of cyber-attacks in manufacturing and how you may improve manufacturing security. Let's begin with the importance of cybersecurity in the manufacturing industry.

Why is Cybersecurity in Manufacturing Crucial?

From January to March of 2019, the number of ransomware attacks in the manufacturing industry has increased by 156%. This is a big change, so it's important to have strong cyber security in the manufacturing process. Wherever software is in use, there is a high probability of cyber-attacks. The manufacturing industry is digitizing itself with cutting-edge technologies connected via the internet and various software. Therefore, the manufacturing industry is particularly vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

The following are some of the key reasons why manufacturers should prioritize manufacturing cybersecurity:
  • Increase in the use of IoT devices in the industry
  • Increase in the cost of data breaches
  • Increase in the number of cyber-attacks across industries
  • Increase in the severity of cyber-attacks
  • Increase in the use of widely accessible hacking tools
  • Increase in the use of remote workers

Five Major Types of Manufacturing Cyber Attacks


Ransomware

Due to the rising value of ransomware, cybercriminals have switched their attention away from selling personal and financial data. Unfortunately, industrial companies stand to lose a lot. Until the hacker's demands are met, this malware locks files on a network and makes them impossible to use.

If a ransom (typically millions) is not paid, threat actors may sell or leak important data. Until the ransom is paid, ransomware users render the company's network inaccessible. This strategy works well for attackers in the manufacturing industry because downtime is costly, and no manufacturer would like to encounter it for a long time.

Ransomware assaults generally occur on weekends or holidays to maximize damage before the attack is realized. This allows hackers to wait in comfort during a busy manufacturing period. Manufacturing enterprises are a desirable target for numerous reasons. A wide network of OT devices and a long supply chain make many endpoints and security flaws.

Phishing

Phishing is the most common type of network assault. Phishing emails are frequently used to gain access to a target firm to carry out further detrimental assaults or acts. For instance, in 2016, a CEO sent an email to a global solar panel manufacturer’s employee.

The email claimed that precise information about internal employees was required. The employee transmitted the data without confirming it. The CEO received the information. Unfortunately, the CEO was a cybercriminal, and the employee was phished, disclosing firm secrets. Perhaps the next generation of thieves will commit even more advanced and sophisticated penetrations and attacks.

Phishing attacks are characterized by the following characteristics:
  • Emails with malicious attachments
  • Emails with hyperlinks that differ from well-known websites and are misspelt
  • Emails with an attention-grabbing title or content
  • Emails from an unusual sender
  • Urgent orders or to-do items

Supply Chain Attacks

In the manufacturing business, no single firm can complete the entire production cycle. It must rely on several manufacturers' parts and components to complete the manufacturing and assembly of the entire product. As a result, numerous parties should coordinate to ensure an effective production process. This technique introduces the risk of supply chain attacks.

Numerous criminals utilize supply chain hacks to steal critical data and intellectual property rights from manufacturers. If a malicious attacker gets permission from the manufacturer's partner to access their network, they may steal critical information or data, and even essential manufacturing records, wreaking havoc on the business.

Additionally, manufacturers' external software or hardware poses security vulnerabilities, and there is a danger of attack along the equipment and system supply chain. Most products are developed using open-source or closed-source components, yet all these components have some level of security vulnerability.

The following are common indicators that your network has been compromised by a third party:
  • Incorrect usernames and passwords are used to access software systems
  • Strange redirects to unknown websites
  • Pop-up advertisements
  • Ransomware messages
  • Software freezes or crashes

IoT Attacks

As the intelligent transformation of manufacturing continues to progress, the Internet of Things' role in facilitating this process becomes increasingly critical. Manufacturers can optimize production processes more effectively and precisely by utilizing various IoT devices. For instance, businesses track assets, collect data, and perform analysis using IoT sensors embedded in devices. These sensors continuously monitor the various operating parameters of the equipment and critical data to enable automatic recovery and minimize maintenance downtime.

Increased security risks occur because of the proliferation of various IoT devices in manufacturing plants. IoT devices have networking capabilities and can be easily connected to a network. Typically, manufacturers' IoT, industrial control, and office networks are not adequately isolated. They can get into the industrial control network through public flaws or zero-day attacks on IoT devices. They can then launch malicious attacks on critical production equipment, which can stop production and cause processing accidents.

Insider Threats

Most manufacturing cyber attacks are carried out by outsiders, but nearly 30% originate from insiders or those with access to the company. As with external hackers, these attacks are frequently motivated by financial gain. However, some employees or former employees attack a business out of rage or dissatisfaction.

Internal threat actors do not require network access. They can access sensitive data by leveraging their existing knowledge or credentials. A threat actor is more likely to carry out an attack invisibly and undetected with pre-existing credentials. Unfortunately, former employees can typically access this information if passwords or entry methods are not changed to prevent such attacks.

Because of the increased use of personal devices and remote work, employees can unintentionally be the cause of an internal breach. Most businesses were unprepared for the regulations that would accompany a global pandemic. As manufacturing companies looked for ways to stay afloat by maintaining employees remotely, few had the necessary technological equipment to keep each employee as safe as the company's employees.

Many home-based employees discovered that working from home was not easy, as the line between personal and work time became increasingly blurred and eventually vanished. For hackers, these home networks and the use of unprotected personal devices have opened a new avenue for obtaining sensitive data from large and small businesses.

How to Mitigate Manufacturing Cyber Attack


Make Sure Your Software Is up to Date

Install software patches to prevent attackers from exploiting known issues or vulnerabilities. Numerous operating systems include an automatic update feature. If available, ensure that this option is enabled.

Utilize Current Antivirus Software

Install software patches to prevent attackers from exploiting known issues or vulnerabilities. Numerous operating systems include an automatic update feature. Ensure that this option is enabled if it is available.

Make Use of Strong Passwords

Set up password rules. A stolen or default password is used in 63% of confirmed data breaches. Create strong passwords that are difficult to guess and use unique passwords for each program and device. Experts advise using passphrases or passwords of at least 16 characters.

Make Use of MFA Tool

MFA validates a user's identity using at least two identification components. This stops attackers from taking advantage of weak authentication mechanisms, which lowers the risk of someone getting into your account even if they know the login credentials.

Train Employees on Security Awareness

Security awareness training unites employees, eliminates risks and events, and protects both the company and the employees. Employees should also be taught how to look for and deal with threats like phishing.

Final Word

Industry 4.0 is all about smart technologies that operate with the help of the internet. It increases the probability of manufacturing equipment and software being hacked. Therefore, while you intend to create a smart environment in your manufacturing facility, you must take the necessary cyber security measures.

The strategies mentioned in this article to mitigate the cyber-attacks will ensure that you take every precaution to keep the working environment safe. There are many ways to protect your manufacturing business from cyberattacks. The techniques and the types of attacks described in this article will help you know what to opt for and which attacks to look for in your manufacturing business.

FAQ


What are the most common cyber security threats?

Phishing attacks are the most common cyber security threats that employees fall for. With the advancement of phishing attacks, many employees lack the knowledge necessary to spot a phishing email. Additionally, many employees have poor cyber security practices, such as using the same password for work and personal devices, which is also one of the reasons for rising phishing attacks.

What are the cyber security challenges in Industry 4.0?

Smart factories are vulnerable to the same types of attacks as conventional networks, including vulnerability exploitation, malware, denial of service (DoS), device hacking, and other typical attack tactics.

What is CPS in manufacturing?

CPS (Cyber Physical Systems) are defined as designed systems that are comprised of and reliant on the seamless integration of computer algorithms and physical components.

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