Cyber Security Risks in Manufacturing Industries

Mounika Raghavarapu   

Manufacturing industries usually think they are safe from cyberattacks. Most of the time, when a cyberattack makes the news headlines, it is usually a huge breach containing a credit card company or Social Security numbers. However, today, Hackers are now hunting for the next huge opportunity and what they are moving into is the manufacturing industry.

New Cyber security threats that are prone to the manufacturing industry

Phishing attacks/websites preventive measures

The velocity of phishing attacks - the fraudulent attempt to access critical information by posing as a trusted source or entity is on the rise. Phishing attacks are a way to carry out an attack using compromised email accounts. Hackers use organizations’ names or character replacements to exploit the basic human curiosity by giving them attractive even lucrative links and trick them into clicking on infected emails. To avoid such fraudulent activities by internal teams, enhanced security procedures are highly recommended such as multi-factor authentication and limited employee network access. What works in the organization’s favor with such procedures is the principle of least privilege.

AI and ML are felicitating Attackers:

Today most of the cybercrimes reported across the world are carried out by bots and are automated, highly sophisticated, and more complex. So it is clear that the cybercriminals are weaponizing digital technology, abusing IoT devices to produce massive attacks at a scale that becomes difficult to tackle

AI and ML allow organizations with disruption detection models, defensive responses, this helps them in mitigating the threat even before it attacks. In response, the malware attackers are creating machine learning models for finding new vulnerabilities that can escape from any AI-based firewalls.

  • Machine learning models for Phishing Attackers still use Phishing for distributing Ransomware, but now by using advanced machine learning models which can draft the most convincing fake emails that pretend as human-composed mail. Hackers are developing these models with the right “training data” about the target, with this the hacker job is done. Now the bots take control, these bots can create thousands of malware-loaded emails within no time. These bots also have the intelligence of finding the right message, tone, and subject and send emails much like a human. These types of AI-enabled emails can easily evade spam filters.
  • Hidden attacks: With AI and ML models, hackers are being successful in evading an organization's security measures by creating destructive hacks that are less visible. Today IoT is everywhere and not every user of IoT is a security professional, thereby it is very much easier for the bots to high-jack IoT endpoints and manipulate data and infect the entire system, and still remain undetected.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack

In today’s modern business landscape the number of Denial of Service (DoS) attacks is exponentially growing – both in frequency and intensity and these kinds of attacks may surge in 2021.

A Denial of Service (DoS) attack is something that a cyber-attacker intends to disrupt the legitimate users’ (i.e. employees, members, or account holders) access to a server or a website resource, by flooding it with malicious traffic or by sending data that triggers a crash.

In DoS attacks, an attacker uses a network of hijacked computers. This network is used to flood the target site with phony server requests, leaving no bandwidth for legitimate

Supply Chain gaps

Manufacturing companies need a strong supply chain usually comprising of third-party vendors to carry out daily operations and improve efficiencies, such raw material manufacturers and other input item suppliers. With digital advancements, most likely the suppliers work on integrated supply chain management systems. In the unfortunate event of any of your vendors within your ecosystem were to experience a data breach, your organization would be adversely affected operationally and have to pay a heavy price. It is super important to have complete protection, complete visibility from across your connected networks that allows you to continuously monitor suppliers’ cybersecurity posture.

Ransomware threats

According to Gartner,  it is important to conduct initial ransomware assessments, enforce ransomware governance,  maintain consistent operational readiness, back up, test, repeat ransomware response to secure from this threat

Ransomware hackers are looking to interrupt operations to demand a ransom from organizations in exchange for stolen data and intellectual property.

The IoT factor

In recent years, many of the manufacturing companies adopted Internet of Things (IoT) which refers to a system of interrelated computing devices that can communicate and transfer data across a layered network, especially useful for their manufacturing units. This helps to streamline access to critical documents and product information as well as use big data to monitor industry trends and trial successes. The unique privacy challenges that the industry is required to navigate, IoT can increase an organization’s cyber risk and present additional vulnerabilities by increasing the attack surface and creating more opportunities for hackers to gain access to the network and even bring networks down.

Employee negligence

A major driver of data breaches across nearly all industries is their internal users.  Attackers have long realized that it’s not the C-level employees are not the only employees who should be wary of external cyber-attacks, as lower-level employees are more likely to be soft and ready targets. Common types of cybercrimes that take undue advantage of human behavior to gain sensitive information. Employee education and sensitizing them to the traps of social engineering is crucial for staying diligent against hackers.