Cyber-attacks and Your Factory

If you’re an owner or manager of a manufacturing business or company, you’d assume that workplace accidents and injuries, machinery failure, and competition are among your company’s biggest threats. However, in this day and age, you’d have to consider the crippling effects of a cyber-attack. You’d think that hackers would only target banks or companies that hold bank and credit card numbers, but they don’t discriminate when it comes to which industries to attack — some are there to outright steal, while other hackers are actually paid to perform attacks.

The Norsk Hydro Incident

In fact, Norsk Hydro, one of the largest aluminum companies, suffered a cyber-attack this year (2019). The ransomware attack was able to take 22,000 computers over 170 different sites offline unless the company pays them a huge sum of money. However, Norsk Hydro refused to negotiate and spent around £45M (roughly $57M) to restore their system and bring their company back to its feet. This simply shows how important it is for your manufacturing firm to safeguard your cyberspace; from the computers you use in your office, your SCADA system’s programming that monitor the technical aspects of your operations, to even the company’s phones and tablets, it’s integral for you to take precautionary measures to avoid being the next target of a cyber-attack:

Update Your Systems

Older systems are more likely to be victims of cyber-attacks as hackers have had enough time and resources to study the ins and outs of systems in order to find vulnerabilities. So it’s important to continuously update your manufacturing firm’s systems, may it be your cloud-based business software, your operational systems, or even your current security systems in place. SCADA systems are known to have security vulnerabilities which is why next-generation SCADA programming is making strides towards protecting it from cyber-attacks.

Hire a Professional Cybersecurity Company

Perhaps the best security investment you can make for your company nowadays is hiring and partnering with a reliable Cybersecurity company. The keyword here is “reliable”, so it’s important that you find a cybersecurity company or firm that specializes in cybersecurity solutions for your type of industry: manufacturing. You should also consider their resources and if they’re able to cover a company of your scale (especially if you have multiple sites). Sure, investing in cybersecurity can be costly, but being a victim of a cyber-attack such as Norsk Hydro can be more debilitating.

Train and Enforce Cybersecurity Measures

One of the biggest vulnerabilities that hackers exploit is humans through social engineering attacks such as random email that prompt them to click on a link that downloads and installs harmful software, or poor cybersecurity practices such as weak passwords. It’s important that you invest in training your workforce to be wary of cybersecurity threats and attacks, social engineering, and what to do and who to talk to if they have identified a possible cybersecurity issue.

Conclusion

Cyber Security Protection Firewall Interface Concept

You’d probably wonder if a company as big as Norsk Hydro can be a victim of an attack, what’s the use of taking these precautionary measures? It’s the same reason why we bother to earthquake-proof our buildings; it’s in the hopes to prevent or minimize the damage. It’s best to have these cybersecurity measures in place to fully protect your manufacturing firm from smaller-scale attacks, and so that you can minimize or contain the damage done by large-scale attacks.