Manufacturing Cybersecurity: The Funnel Approach
The modern factory is undergoing a digital transformation — everything from human-machine interfaces (HMIs) and robotics, to a growing Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), to robust augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) support technologies. But with every new innovation comes opportunity for exploitation. If it’s connected to the internet, hackers and cybercriminals will try to find a way to exploit it.
The need for manufacturing cybersecurity has reached an urgent state. To properly embrace it, manufacturers need to understand the hierarchy of the cybersecurity funnel.
Manufacturing cybersecurity is a priority NOW
All industries are participating in the ever-growing digital era. However, 77% of companies don’t have a plan for addressing cyberattacks — manufacturing companies chief among them. Hackers target manufacturing companies because of the sheer abundance of data available — data used for exploitation or ransom.
Manufacturers are often stuck with a cost conundrum. The cost of updating to new technologies is great, but the cost of continuing with an antiquated, exploited system is even greater. The misconception is that not spending any money means saving … but manufacturers aren’t saving money by not hiring a cybersecurity professional. Data breach costs average $150 million, and one breach can cripple a manufacturing business for months. A fraction of the total cost of damages can prevent cyberattacks.
To make matters worse, it’s often several months before data breaches are detected. A lot can happen in that time, invariably compounding costs and damages.
The cybersecurity funnel
The cybersecurity funnel is a hierarchy of data protection. The four levels, from broad to specific, are:
- Applications and services
- Software and hardware interfaces
- Physical networking architecture
- Edge devices
To protect their data, manufacturers must prioritize which level should be protected first. In most cases, it starts at the top of the funnel, with applications and services, because they give hackers access to the broadest range of data.
Physical networking architectures include servers and data storage areas. These are a lesser priority to protect because, unlike the company’s overall network, they have access to only a fraction of the data. Nevertheless, they’re still of critical importance.
The signs of a data breach are usually realized through edge devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers — which, ironically, are often the last devices to be protected against cyberattacks. Why? It’s time consuming to equip these devices one-by-one with protection. It’s more effective to protect one application that will trickle protection down to all devices in the network.
Software and human solutions to cybersecurity
Cybersecurity software is necessary for all manufacturing companies for several reasons. It prevents ransomware from encrypting a company’s information, which restricts access to it. Also, it helps compensate for human error caused by negligent or under-trained employees.
Firewalls and antivirus software are essential; however, cybersecurity also depends on real people to monitor a company’s digital network. This could range from simply changing passwords on a regular basis to updating old systems. And it’s not just IT professionals that are responsible; employees at all levels of the company should promote a work environment that emphasizes cybersecurity.
Manufacturers must protect their data against cyberattacks. Plenty of cybersecurity professionals are available to help companies adapt to digital threats. They know it’s about more than data protection — company reputations are at stake.