What Is Manufacturing Cybersecurity?

what is manufacturing cybersecurity

Advanced robotics. Sprawling facilities. Vast global supply chains. No component of the modern manufacturing industry is simple. And, as the fourth industrial revolution unfolds, this complexity is increasing exponentially. The influx of innovation has made the industry more vulnerable to cyberattacks than ever, forcing companies to adapt.

From unpacking essential questions like, “What is manufacturing cybersecurity?” to the essentials of how to construct a cybersecurity strategy, this article is your primer for cyber security in manufacturing.

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What Is Manufacturing Cybersecurity?

What Are the Biggest Manufacturing Cybersecurity Challenges?

How to Create a Manufacturing Cybersecurity Strategy

How to Find a Manufacturing Cybersecurity Partner

What Is Manufacturing Cybersecurity?

Manufacturing cybersecurity is the use of cybersecurity strategies and solutions to protect manufacturing technology from cyberattacks. Historically speaking, manufacturing and other industrial sectors have not been as vulnerable to cyberattacks as other industries, particularly those with faster technological turnover. But the rise of Industry 4.0 — emphasizing interconnected, intelligent, and data-rich industrial equipment and systems — has increased the industry’s overall attack surface. Consequently, organizations in this space must increase their investment in cybersecurity, adopting established techniques from IT cybersecurity as well as new approaches developed to handle the specific challenges of the manufacturing environment.

From reducing the attack surface to protecting vulnerable legacy devices, the Byos Secure Edge helps manufacturers confidently handle their most difficult cybersecurity challenges. Schedule your demo today to see how edge microsegmentation can help you safeguard your most valuable assets from cyber threats.

What Are the Biggest Manufacturing Cybersecurity Challenges?

Seeing the space as relatively unguarded and unsophisticated in terms of cyberdefenses, bad actors are increasingly targeting manufacturing companies to steal valuable IP and execute phishing and pharming attacks. This trend has created record-breaking levels of cybercrime in the industry, surpassing traditionally targeted sectors like finance and insurance.

When successful, these attacks can result in organizational and financial damage. In fact, the average data breach cost manufacturers nearly $4.5M in 2022, up approximately $250K (5.4%) from the previous year. These increasing costs — coupled with high-profile attacks on top manufacturers like Mondelez, Renault-Nissan, Norsk Hydro, and Visser Precision  — have created more awareness of the need for increased cybersecurity.  

To improve this area, manufacturers must create a comprehensive cybersecurity plan that addresses their four main challenges: fragmented response, legacy device vulnerabilities, remote access issues, and baked-in equipment vulnerabilities. 

  • Fragmented response: While there is a growing understanding of the threat cyberattacks pose to manufacturers, many companies have struggled to mount an organized and cohesive response to it. An in-depth survey of manufacturing executives by Deloitte found that half the respondents were not confident their organizations were protected — and 38% had lost between $1 to $10 million due to a recent breach.
  • Legacy device vulnerabilities: Due to budgetary limitations, logistical difficulty, operational continuity requirements, and other factors, manufacturing processes often rely on various aging and legacy technologies. Whether this equipment is integrated into an OT system or remains air-gapped (or otherwise disconnected) from the company's newer technical infrastructure, such outdated devices can be readily exploited through several attack vectors.
  • Remote access issues: Unaccustomed to viewing their industrial devices through a cybersecurity lens, manufacturers can leave their OT, ICS, and SCADA open to attack via poorly configured IAM profiles, firewalls, and unsecured networks. Once a bad actor compromises the network through one of these backdoors, they can rapidly escalate their access.
  • Baked-in equipment vulnerabilities: Research has revealed that technology suppliers also contribute to the cyber-readiness issues manufacturers face. In 2022, Forescout’s Vedere Labs published a list of 56 vulnerabilities impacting technology products offered by 10 OT vendors. Dubbed “insecure-by-design,” this phenomenon means that legacy devices are not the only components threatening manufacturers: Even the latest systems are riddled with cybersecurity problems.

How to Create a Manufacturing Cybersecurity Strategy

Now that we have answered the question, “What is manufacturing cybersecurity?” and explored the industry’s cybersecurity challenges, let’s work through how companies can respond. The following steps explain how organizations in this space can develop, implement, and improve a cybersecurity strategy.

  • Build internal support: The first step in developing a manufacturing cybersecurity strategy is to connect with all the internal stakeholders — executives, IT, plant floor operators, vendor management, etc. — and create widespread buy-in by clearly communicating the organizational impact.
  • Identify key assets: Manufacturers have a long list of devices that require protection. This list includes electrical power distribution, motor control centers (MCC), variable frequency drives (VFD), machine controllers, human-machine interfaces (HMI), web-based SCADA, remote telemetry devices, and more. This equipment needs to be comprehensively discovered and recorded.
  • Develop your cybersecurity plan: Your cybersecurity plan should cover all known vulnerabilities, describe security processes, outline cybersecurity policies, list cybersecurity tools, and outline the entire defensive architecture — as well as the implementation process.
  • Implement cybersecurity architecture: Innovative manufacturers go beyond traditional tactics, leveraging newer technologies and approaches — like microsegmentation — to protect their critical assets against threats, vulnerabilities, and cyberattacks, thereby dramatically raising the security posture of their industrial equipment and OT systems.
  • Implement security controls: Next, you must implement all the security controls described in your cybersecurity plan across the entire manufacturing environment. These controls should encompass all relevant areas: management, operations, IT, etc. Roll out these controls in order of ease of implementation, tackling the controls that do not require facilities modification first and working your way toward those that do.
  • Optimize your strategy: Although following this process will ensure your initial cybersecurity strategy provides robust protection, there will be points of weakness. Regularly test your defenses, surface flaws, develop new potential tactics, deploy, and test again. Continual improvement is the best cyber-risk mitigation strategy.

How to Find a Manufacturing Cybersecurity Partner

The growing threat posed by cyberattacks puts even more pressure on what is already one of the most complex and competitive industries in the global economy. Manufacturers need to find innovative cybersecurity tech partners if they are going to respond to these issues without compromising other critical business operations.

A leading provider of Zero Trust cybersecurity solutions, Byos has the technology and experience to help manufacturers protect their legacy equipment, resolve remote access vulnerabilities, and reduce their attack surface. Schedule a demo to start improving the cyber security of your manufacturing systems, equipment, and facilities.

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