March 10, 2022//Isa JonesLast Updated: May 24, 2022
As society enters a fourth industrial revolution, the manufacturing industry is facing vast, rapid changes. Those changes are marked by both innovation, productivity and efficiency improvements, and new, unforeseen risks.
Understanding the cybersecurity threats this industry faces will help those organizations identify their own key vulnerabilities and implement cybersecurity strategies to best protect their critical systems.
One only needs to look at the data to see that smart factories and other manufacturing organizations are at risk:
It’s simple: high risk equals a high reward. The risk associated with industrial control systems being hacked or going down is extremely high, and it could result in monetary loss, supply chain issues, or even threaten public safety (in the case of critical infrastructure). So, bad actors know that if they hold those systems for ransom, the payday could come fast and could be massive.
It’s well known by now that third parties are a major source of risk for any organization – and manufacturing plants, supply chain operations, and smart factories contain plenty. Toyota recently had to temporarily suspend domestic operations and lost 13,000 cars worth of output because of an attack on one of their suppliers.
Third-party hacks are common, they’re increasing, and the fact is many organizations don’t have full visibility or control over those third parties.
Factories are getting smarter, but their cybersecurity remains the same. Just as their software and operations are adaptive, their security needs to be adaptive as well, covering all critical access points and adjusting as needed to protect what’s most important. Updating to better remote access platforms, educating employees, and utilizing innovation is key to protecting critical access points and assets.
Russian hackers targeted Colonial Pipeline, causing a shutdown of operations and a gas shortage across the Southeast coast of the United States. Bad attackers get into the operations technology of a water treatment plant in Oldsmar, Florida, almost succeeding in poisoning the water supply. These are just two examples of how a critical infrastructure hack can not only damage an organization, but threaten public health and public safety.
Critical infrastructure is just that—critical–and it needs equally critical cybersecurity to keep it safe.
When it comes to a cyberattack on a smart factory, manufacturing organization, or a critical infrastructure entity, the risk goes far beyond operational downtime and reputational damage. These entities interact with multiple high-value third parties and often the general public, meaning one hack could have a devastating ripple effect. Just look at the Oldsmar plant, Colonial Pipeline, or others to see how fast a cyberattack could spiral into something more sinister.
Those effects could:
As manufacturing moves towards smart factories, advanced technology, and globalization, organizations need a decentralized cybersecurity approach that fits their decentralized structure and operations.
Critical Access Management, or the securing of critical access points, is the best solution to make sure every aspect of the manufacturing operation is safe. A manufacturing organization can be hacked from any access point, and with new technology coming into play, those access points grow exponentially while the assets behind them rise in value.
Cybersecurity measures all organization should take include: