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For a long time, we’ve associated cybersecurity risks with financial institutions, the defense industry, academia, governmental organizations and health care institutions. The databases of these types of organizations contain vast quantities of valuable IP and personal information — precisely the kind of data that cybercriminals want.

However, recent reports highlight the growing trend of sophisticated hacks and organized nation-state sponsored cybercrime targeting manufacturing companies that previously considered themselves immune from cyber attacks.

So what’s changed? Why are manufacturers suddenly being targeted? What are the cybersecurity risks in manufacturing? And most importantly, what can you do to protect your company from them?

The answers to all of these questions are related to what cybercriminals are after: an easy payday. Whereas getting through the robust firewalls, multiple security protocols and tightly monitored networks of businesses with vast amounts of sensitive data takes a good deal of time and energy, breaking into many manufacturers’ IT systems requires much less effort. Combine this difference with the fact that cybercriminals are now more capable than ever before to take advantage of stolen intellectual property, and it’s clear why manufacturing cybersecurity risks are at an all-time high.

Cybersecurity Plans for Manufacturing

With the rise of smart factories, the proliferation of connected mobile devices and the growing drive to automate processes, many manufacturers welcome more technology onto their premises every day. Yet often, they don’t have an adequate budget or well thought out plan to protect their operations and IP from hackers and breaches. This current state of affairs makes for a perfect storm where profitable businesses — often with outdated and vulnerable IT systems — are sitting on fortunes in valuable IP.

The bottom line is that unlike in other business sectors, it doesn’t take much sophistication to score a profitable payday off of stolen product plans. This situation is why even companies as large as Merck and Honda have fallen prey to cyber attacks that have forced them to temporarily close facilities and halt production until their IT networks were fixed.

When you consider that criminals totally bypass the costs of research and development when they sell stolen IP to companies that aim to mass produce illegitimate imitations, the need to strengthen your cybersecurity practices becomes as immediate as paying your employees on time.

Fortunately, there’s help for forward-thinking manufacturers. One key resource to consult is the Cybersecurity Framework Manufacturing Profile, which was developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology under the direction of the U.S. Department of Commerce. This document provides a roadmap to improved cybersecurity that’s specifically designed around the manufacturing sector.

In addition, for companies located throughout South Central Pennsylvania, MANTEC provides a host of cybersecurity services, including cyber awareness training, vulnerability assessments and incident response management, to name just a few. Since 1988, MANTEC has been helping Pennsylvania’s manufacturers achieve more and grow their businesses. To learn how we can help your business — including strengthening your cybersecurity measures — reach out to us right away.

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