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9 Aug 2022

The manufacturing industry can increase production and facilitate processes like never before. Today's technology makes this possible. However, there are challenges within this particular industry that impact cybersecurity and safety. Let’s take a look at how cybercriminals target manufacturers and the best solutions to ransomware attacks and cyber threats.

Why do Cyber Attackers Target Manufacturers?

By 2024, Juniper Research predicts that nearly 70% of the new 83 billion globally connected IoT devices will be in the industrial sector. Predictably, attacks are on the rise. There are more opportunities for cybercriminals to hack into systems. 

It’s no longer a question of if a cyberattack happens but when manufacturers will be hit. 

To increase sales and profit over the years, most manufacturers have focused on the operational technology (OT) of their production lines versus informational technology (IT). OT is a combination of hardware and software. It can simplify the management of industrial equipment, production, and assets. 

Today’s manufacturers deal with IT and OT convergence. TechTarget goes over the interrelation between the two technologies. The traditional physical world has “machines, electromechanical devices, manufacturing systems and other industrial equipment.” Now there is a “more recent digital world using servers, storage, [and] networking…to run applications and process data.”

IT converged infrastructure (or hyper-converged infrastructure) is an example of convergence according to TechTarget. The “developments merge traditionally separate servers, storage, networking and management tools into a single, cohesive, centrally managed product.” 

The evolving relationship between IT and OT leads to devices built with just enough processing power and bandwidth to create weaknesses in manufacturing cybersecurity. Though it's often without a plan for restoration post destruction. Traditional OT assets should be reevaluated for their level of connectivity and interdependency. Instead, manufacturers can opt for a more comprehensive OT protection strategy. TechTarget also warns that “IT security teams and processes must incorporate the diverse real-time demands of industrial environments.” 

Manufacturing is one of the main industries targeted for cyberattacks. However, smaller businesses often lack the necessary financial and personnel resources to defend themselves. Another distinguishing factor for manufacturing companies is that they don’t operate with the same cyber protection as other industries.

Compared to other industries, manufacturers didn’t experience the same cyber threats. Manufacturers felt a false sense of security as they were more removed from the outside world and believed that they were expendable to cyberattackers.

Cybercriminals take advantage of this by utilizing ransomware to attack and hobble supply chains. 

A 2021 Year in Review report from Dragos found that “86% of organizations Dragos assisted had little or no visibility into their OT environments.” Industrial organizations cannot get a complete assessment of all networked systems. It includes the potential exposures accessible to cyber hackers. 

Ransomware prevails as the most common type of cyberattack in the manufacturing industry. “Two ransomware groups, Conti and LockBit 2.0, executed more than half of all ransomware attacks on the industrial sector, 70% of which were aimed at manufacturing firms.” Threat actors are taking advantage of ransomware vulnerabilities in the manufacturing sector. The demand for production during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is another way for hackers to penetrate faulty security.

The heightened cyber risk for manufacturers is largely due to inattention. Present vulnerabilities left unaddressed cause 47% of attacks.

How Much of Manufacturing is Impacted by Cyberattacks? 

Based on the report from the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, manufacturing made up 23% of the total industry attacks. Cybercriminals have more of an opportunity to compromise data and security and can threaten global production. 

IBM attributes over 60% of OT firm incidents to the manufacturing industry. This exceeded financial services by 23.2%, with ransomware accounting for 23% of all attacks.

Manufacturing is imperative to economical prosperity. Disruption to the supply chain is catastrophic. Hackers exploit manufacturers by blocking necessary production on which economic growth and stability are contingent. 

Who Are the Types of Manufacturers Affected? 

Cybersecurity breaches have the ability to halt production and impact manufacturers greatly:

In June 2021, JBS, a North American and Australian operation, suffered a ransomware attack disabling meat supply production. As the world’s largest supplier of beef, this had a ripple effect from manufacturers to the restaurants and grocery stores reliant on regular distribution.

Toyota, along with its subsidiaries Hino and Daihatsu, lost 13,000 vehicles a day of output. Hackers suspended manufacturing operations at 14 Japanese factories in March of 2022. 

Norsk Hydro, a Norwegian aluminum parts manufacturer, paid $52 million in recoveries after LockerGoga carried out ransomware attacks in 2019. The company had to shut down production. One production unit switched to manual operations in the aftermath of the attack. 

A 2020 attack on Honda facilities shows how vulnerable manufacturers’ OT infrastructure is and the catastrophic results.

Recently, researchers are concerned about the “risks associated with a rapid deployment of agricultural AI.” Technology is a huge advantage for farmers. It's able to improve and mitigate crop management and agricultural productivity. In correlation, monitoring technology protects against “accidental failures, unintended consequences, and cyber-attacks.”

Cyber-attackers could potentially cause “disruption to commercial farms using AI.” They poison datasets and have the power to shut down sprayers, autonomous drones, and robotic harvesters.

What Is the Solution to Cyber Security Failures?

It’s evident that ransomware and cyberattacks are contingent upon the safety of technology. Paying cyberattackers can result in millions of dollars lost not only on this transaction but also on recovery and reinforced security. 

Security is central to software design at Macrium. Our applications give you complete control over where your data is stored and will operate fully offline for the most secure, air-tight networks.

Macrium Software, paired with other lines of defense including firewall protection and antivirus software, can save industries from losing irreplaceable data. The types of backups Macrium provides alleviate issues when cyberattacks occur. Backups guarantee that your information is still accessible.

Adding Macrium into your disaster recovery plan and process is not only affordable and allows your company to have minimum recovery time to get your production back in line, but it’s also reliable, fast, and secure.

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The Retail Industry and Cybersecurity Risks