New realities are gradually transforming the manufacturing sector, including developing technology and emerging consumer and social trends. Wireless applications are increasingly penetrating personal and enterprise spaces by delivering quantifiable benefits in time and monetary cost management. However, extended connectivity also generates additional cybersecurity concerns as vulnerabilities progressively appear with the expansion of communication networks. Employees in the manufacturing industry were found to be some of the most likely to be susceptible to a phishing attack, and new methods of connectivity on both the factory floor and in customer-facing locations might provide new openings for hackers.
Manufacturers have considerable opportunities to streamline operational procedures and costs by deploying wireless tools, including Internet of Technology (IoT) capable devices. Industrial-level IoT applications can permit greater visibility, improved reaction times and faster decision making depending on how they are implemented. This and other Internet-connected technology provide the means to communicate more efficiently in production facilities as well as with external parties (consumers, trading partners, etc.).
All networked technology is vulnerable to hacking, and several factors can lead to manufacturing tools becoming bigger targets for cyberattackers. One of the most important will be that equipment’s role in generating and processing data within the production value chain. Hackers will seek to penetrate network points that can either deliver immediate value or provide access to deeper gateways that can. The blurring of the lines between cybercriminals and state actors adds additional danger as attackers may seek instead to cause more immediate and physical damage to production spaces.
Roel Schouwenberg, Director of Intelligence and Research at Celsus Advisory Group, told attendees at the 2018 IndustryWeek Manufacturing & Technology Conference & Expo that worsening geopolitical circumstances will lead to greater threats of cyber attack. Cybersecurity is connected to everything, he pointed out during his keynote address, and foreign powers may consider U.S. companies legitimate targets in cyberwarfare. “[Y]ou are both a target for attack and a vehicle for attack,” said Schouwenberg.
Even without political motivations, there is still ample incentive for hackers to target manufacturers to obtain valuable data or access to funds directly, including from a ransomware deployment. Cyberattackers have several avenues to derive value from a successful network penetration, and emerging digital technology provides new and potentially overlooked entry points into systems. Manufacturer associations and government agencies are increasingly recognizing the threat and beginning to take steps to prepare the industry for the growing level of cyber attack.
Contact SWK’s Network Services team to find out hot to protect your network from targeted cyber threats.