Manufacturing is one of the top 3 industries targeted by cyber criminals. Why is the sector failing to tackle the issue?

The UK is currently the world’s ninth largest manufacturing nation, with the industry generating 45% of our exports, 14% of business investment and 68% of business research and development. Yet cybercrime poses a real threat to the manufacturing industry.

Manufacturing is one of the top three industries targeted by cyber-espionage, the second most likely to be targeted through spam in emails, and the third to be attacked with spear-phishing – fake emails targeting particular organisations. The number of attacks on industrial supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems doubled between 2013 and 2014, as older systems began to get connected to the internet.

With so many resources at our fingertips, it’s surprising that the sector has done so little to protect itself from cyber crime.

Why are factories targeted?
It’s worth remembering that cyber-attackers are not always faceless criminals targeting organisations simply because they are large. Global organised crime groups have been known to work with corporate espionage groups and political activists, providing an insider motivation. Here’s what they might be after…

·         Intellectual Property
Stolen product specifications and designs, customer order schedules and other intellectual property (IP) can be used to enable the counterfeiting of goods, or the interception and theft of shipments. The UK government has estimated £9.2bn is lost to cyber-theft of IP each year. Access to confidential data could also give insiders an advantage in commercial negotiations.

·         Financial gain
Putting your systems out of action and disrupting production is guaranteed to impact your revenue, providing opportunities for in-the-know competitors who could step in to fulfil a customer requirement. Once attackers have proved they have access to your systems, and are causing you to lose money, cyberattackers may demand cash in the form of a ransom. For a sense of scale, unexpected stoppages in the automotive industry have been estimated at over £17,000 per minute.

·         Reputational damage
As our manufacturing processes begin to rely more on technology, digitisation and remotely controlled operational systems, some hacker’s motivation is simply attempting to control your plant, or disrupt your systems. While monetary losses vary, cyber attacks certainly cause damage to your brand and reputation. Analysis by security experts such as the Ponemon Institute suggests cyber-attackers create a negative perception on the scale of an environmental disaster, causing clients to worry they cannot trust you and that their details may not be safe.

What can you do to protect yourself?
Just as you cannot completely prevent a burglary, there is no guarantee against cyber attacks – but smart cyber security and data protection measures will certainly help.

·         Outdated systems present a big security challenge, as technology and cyber crime methods are constantly evolving. Legacy systems which haven’t been updated, or security systems which rely on manual processes, should be updated to address the volume and variety of today’s cyber threats.

·         Network security needs to be open enough to allow access to permitted devices but not leave security holes. Risk management is key – bear in mind that cybercriminals could be helped in getting access by dishonest or former employees. Change passwords regularly, don’t send sensitive data over a public network, and encrypt information where possible.

·         Automated manufacturing equipment typically uses both software and hardware to control it. Software protection in these machines can be programmed to prevent machine designs and intellectual property being copied or transferred. Software security firms can provide these solutions.

As your business evolves, your insurance protection will also need to progress. Cyber Liability cover can give you financial reassurance in the event of a cyber attack. Talk to Howard Insurance Services about how you can protect your business with a complete Manufacturing Insurance package, tailored to suit your needs.