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How to Optimize Cyber Security in Manufacturing

As technology advances, manufacturing companies rely more heavily on cloud computing, the Internet of Things, augmented reality, and robotics among other revolutionary equipment. Commonly referred to as Industry 4.0, companies are moving toward smart manufacturing solutions and processes.

Smart factories present an incredible opportunity for manufacturers to better control and understand every moving part of their operation—effectively accessing real-time data, improving processes, boosting productivity, and driving growth.

While interconnectivity and digital transformation is revolutionizing the industry, digital technology and automation software exposes manufacturers to greater cybersecurity threats. Here’s a look at why cybersecurity is more crucial than ever and how manufacturers can guard themselves against cyberattacks.

Why Cybersecurity Is Important for Manufacturers

Cyberattacks are becoming increasingly common, with the FBI’s Cyber Division reporting a 400 percent increase in cyberattacks during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a MAPI report, 40 percent of manufacturers reported to being targeted in a cyber incident during the last 12 months. Most concerning of all, the survey also found that one in four manufacturing companies haven’t performed a cyber risk assessment in the last year.

Taken all together, we see that manufacturing companies are prime targets amid increasing cyber attacks, yet many of these same companies are unprepared for these incidents. This lack of preparation can be a costly mistake for companies that risk losing $1M for each security breach.

With increasing smart technology adoption, manufacturers are seeing a critical need to safeguard against future attacks. While Industry 4.0 comes with incredible benefits, it’s important to be prepared for cybersecurity risks while integrating new technology and processes.

How to Optimize Security in Manufacturing

With both internal and external risks looming, the time is now for manufacturers to put safeguards in place to protect themselves. Manufacturing businesses can reduce their chances of falling victim to a costly and potentially devastating cyberattack by outlining a plan and implementing the following guidelines.

Perform a Risk Assessment

A thorough risk assessment should cover internal communications, password management practices, and firewall configurations. It should also look at industrial control systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and any standalone software and systems. Risk assessment should be an ongoing function that occurs at least twice a year to account for workflow and operational environment changes.

Once this has been done, an actionable roadmap should be created to spell out the steps company leadership needs to take, and how those steps will be communicated to and enforced within the company.

Assess Internal Risk  

Companies don’t just need to lookout for malicious current or former employees. Most of the time, internal breaches are unintentional and are the result of a lack of insight about how information can be put at risk.

For example, employees using WiFi vs. secure networks, failing to diligently protect their own passwords, and transferring company information across personal computers and mobile devices are all examples of how information can be inadvertently compromised. In modern working environments today, where office staff may work remotely, effective cybersecurity practices should be top of mind.

Assess Third-Party Risk

Manufacturing companies depend heavily upon relationships with various suppliers and service providers. Although necessary to maintain a manufacturing business, these relationships further expose companies to potential risk.

It’s critical to put the appropriate checks and balances in place to vet third parties, and to clearly define rules and best practices for accessing information and identifying what is confidential and off limits.

Put a Recovery Plan in Place

Even a robust cybersecurity plan isn’t foolproof against an attack or system failure. Having a detailed recovery plan, including the actions that should be taken in the event that a cyberattack is suspected or confirmed, is crucial.

You’ll increase your chances of recovering from an attack if you’ve envisioned the worst-case scenario and developed a plan of action.

Monitor for Security Threats

Even the best thought-out plans can’t succeed without proper monitoring. Once you’ve developed plans to protect your manufacturing company, it’s imperative to monitor them regularly in order to quickly identify loopholes and mitigate risks. Create checklists and develop procedures for reporting and escalation.

Ensure Your Cellular Network Is Secure and Reliable

With more and more manufacturing data stored in the cloud and accessed via the Internet, you must consider the critical implications of poor connectivity. Without redundancies in place, your organization could be unable to access data — data that inherently becomes more vulnerable to a security breach.

By backing your network up with a robust cellular connection, you can ensure that you have the necessary redundancy to protect your manufacturing company against a data breach.

Maintain Security With WilsonPro

If you’re looking to improve cellular connectivity to increase data security and add redundancy to your networks, a WilsonPro Repeater System offers a time-and cost-effective solution.

WilsonPro can improve cellular connectivity in your facility. Better yet, a WilsonPro Repeater System can be up and running in a matter of days at a fraction of the cost.

To learn more about how WilsonPro can make your manufacturing company’s data more secure, contact WilsonPro today.

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