Canadian Manufacturing

What are the biggest manufacturing cybersecurity risks?

by Emily Newton, Editor-in-Chief, Revolutionized   

Manufacturing Operations Research & Development Risk & Compliance Technology / IIoT Electronics advanced manufacturing cybersecurity In Focus Industry 4.0 Manufacturing Research risk Technology

One of the cybersecurity risks facing manufacturers is that businesses often don’t grasp the importance of following best practices and staying up to date with prevention strategies.

Cybersecurity. Wikimedia Commons.

The manufacturing sector is a prime target for cybersecurity attacks due to its essential nature and the potential to cause ripple effects throughout businesses. Here are some of the most significant threats to manufacturers in Canada and elsewhere.

Poor preparedness

Keeping a company secure from cyberattacks is an ongoing effort. However, a 2022 KPMG survey of the Canadian market found that 20% of respondents felt underprepared for attacks. That’s concerning, particularly since only 7% gave that answer in the previous year’s survey.

Another 24% said they still needed to create plans for dealing with ransomware attacks. Only 5% said that in the 2021 survey.

Those takeaways suggest things are moving in the wrong direction. Manufacturers must take cybersecurity seriously by tightening their defences, especially since they’re more at risk than those in many other industries.


Not using the latest cyber-defence technologies

One way to reduce cybersecurity risks is to deploy the latest technologies. Network-monitoring solutions can help spot unusual traffic, while authentication solutions can tell security teams who logs in, from where and on what kind of device. It’s also useful to track trends over time.

However, a 2022 PwC survey of Canadian businesses found fewer than two in five use data and security analytics in their organizations. That’s despite 70% of respondents expecting increased cybercrime over the next year.

Finding the right technologies to keep manufacturing plants safer won’t happen overnight. However, failing to implement those solutions could make facilities more vulnerable to future attacks.

Threats posed by ransomware

Manufacturers increasingly rely on connected technologies to improve their operations. However, many are still relatively new to using those options. That inexperience can result in cybersecurity gaps that hackers exploit.

The 2021 Canadian Cybersecurity Trends Study by Blakes found that 67% of attacks for that year were ransomware. Another statistic from the research was that 54% of affected parties paid the ransom. That suggests the companies did not have adequate backups of critical data.

However, statistics elsewhere indicate people don’t usually recover all their data after paying the ransom. Thus, even if manufacturers can’t prevent ransomware attacks, they should be proactive to make the effects less harmful.

Disengagement with cybersecurity matters

Another cybersecurity risk facing manufacturers is that businesses often don’t grasp the importance of following best practices and staying up to date with prevention strategies.

Research from email security company Tessian found 25% of employees don’t care enough about cybersecurity to report potential incidents. Another 42% admitted they would not know if they’d done something to cause internet security issues at their companies. Moreover, only 20% of people care about cybersecurity at work.

In the 2022 Advanced Manufacturing Outlook Report published by the Canadian manufacturing magazine Plant, 83% of those polled reported experiencing a cybersecurity breach or attack. Even so, 20% felt unconcerned about cyberattacks. Plus, only 35% of respondents that deployed some defence mechanisms prepared plans to deal with breaches.

It’s time to make improvements

These risks show that manufacturers have many shortcomings in defending against or planning for cyberattacks. That’s worrisome since it could make companies easy targets. However, there’s no better time for cybersecurity teams in the manufacturing sector to scrutinize their current practices to identify weaknesses. Strengthening defences takes time and money, but it’s well worth the effort.


Stories continue below