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Corporate Espionage: Cyber Attacks in the Manufacturing Industry

By Dick Weisinger

Security and cyber attacks have got manufacturers worried.  92 percent of manufacturers surveyed said that they are worried about cyber attacks, nearly double the number of businesses who cited security as a high concern just three years ago, according to a report by BDO USA.  Similarly, a report by IBM found that in 2015 manufacturers were the second most frequently targeted industry for cyber attack — the healthcare industry has the dubious honor of being in first place.  Manufacturers have at risk their proprietary information, trade secrets, intellectual property and products.

Aberdeen Research warned that “[the topic of network security] is becoming increasingly relevant in industrial plants. Factor in emerging trends in the business [such as bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT)] and the touch points for potential security threats are increasing at exponential rates.”

Jens Krickhahn, Practice LeaderCyber & Fidelity, said that “attacks by hackers are becoming more target oriented, lasting for longer and can trigger a continuous penetration.”

Why aren’t businesses fighting back harder against cyber attacks?  The Allianz Risk Barometer report for 2016 found that at nearly half of businesses they simply just don’t understand the complexity of cyber attacks and don’t have a concrete assessment of the potential costs of the risks.

Andrew Ginter, vice president of industrial security at Waterfall Security Solutions, said that “the biggest mistake I see routinely is an overemphasis on vulnerabilities in cyber-risk assessments, rather than attacks. The thinking seems to be, “if we can eliminate all vulnerabilities, then we are completely secure.” This quickly evolves into, “quick, patch all the software.” There are many more vulnerabilities in most manufacturing networks than there are known bugs in software. We need to start pulling attack specialists into our risk assessments. Show them the physical and cyber designs for our manufacturing systems, explain the worst physical consequences possible with these systems, and ask how they would attack our systems to bring about those consequences.”





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