Manufacturing is by no means a new industry, but it’s transforming itself. The fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, is taking off as factories start to take advantage of data analytics and related technologies. It’s an exciting time for the sector, but this technological transformation brings some new concerns as well.
As the industry becomes more data-driven, manufacturers have a new threat to consider: cybercrime. When you think about hackers, you probably don’t imagine factories as their target, but cybercrime is a serious issue for any sector. Manufacturing companies can be particularly vulnerable to digital threats nowadays, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first.
Manufacturers may think they don’t need cybersecurity, but here are five reasons why they do.
1. Cybercrime Is Rising
The world is moving toward digital processes, and the same is true with many criminals today. Around the world and across all sectors, cybercrime is rising at an alarming rate. Some estimates hold that cybercrime will cost around £4.5 trillion a year by 2021, more than £2 trillion above the 2015 figure.
Criminals today are tech-native, having grown up around modern technology like the internet and cloud computing. Not only are hackers more common and more experienced, but businesses have more to offer them. Companies across all industries store a lot of data on the internet, making cybercrime a potentially lucrative option.
2. Manufacturers Are Valuable Targets
Cybercrime as a whole may be rising, but would a hacker target a manufacturer over any other business? Yes, they would, because manufacturers have a lot of valuable data. The sheer size of the industry contributes to it being one of the most targeted sectors for cybercrime.
Some manufacturers have info like customer financial information or addresses. If that kind of information falls into the wrong hands, it could cost them dearly. Even if a facility’s data can’t directly benefit a hacker, it can be a valuable target to hold for ransom.
3. Cyberattacks Could Be More Severe
Manufacturers need cybersecurity not just because they’re a valuable target, but also because they have more to lose. Yes, manufacturers often have a lot of money or intellectual property, but that’s not all that’s at stake. If a cyberattack crippled any part of the manufacturing process, it could cause a ripple effect of costly disruptions.
As a part of Industry 4.0, factory machinery is becoming more connected. A hacker could access and make something malfunction remotely, which could lead to faulty products or stopped production. Either case would cause disruptions along the supply chain, costing manufacturers and their clients lots of money.
4. Modern Factories Have More Entry Points
One of the biggest parts of Industry 4.0 is using IoT technologies throughout a factory. These are excellent tools for productivity, but without robust cybersecurity, they could be at substantial risk. In an interconnected digital ecosystem, hackers could gain access to the whole system through any point in the network.
A manufacturer may have secure access controls over a database that stores valuable customer data. If it has an unsecured IoT device on the same network, though, a hacker may be able to access the database. Without broader cybersecurity measures, every IoT device becomes a potential back door to sensitive information.
5. The Industry Lacks Cybersecurity Experience
Industry 4.0 is still a new concept, so many manufacturers are stepping into this kind of technology for the first time. The sector is adopting these technologies at an incredible rate, but don’t have experience in the risks that come with it. This lack of knowledge makes them a tempting target for cybercriminals.
Since manufacturing employees aren’t used to seeing these threats, they may not know how to identify them. As a result, they could be vulnerable to phishing attacks, which take advantage of users, not the systems themselves. Without a company culture of security, manufacturers may not know how to avoid these attacks.
Cybersecurity Isn’t Optional Today
In today’s digital world, no company in any industry can ignore the risks of cyberattacks. Cybersecurity is a must, especially for sectors like manufacturing, which has less experience in the area. Industry 4.0 has many advantages, but companies need to ensure they secure these technologies.
Written by Megan Ray Nichols