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Author : Tronserve | Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Five Steps Manufacturers Can Take to Combat Cyber Attacks

Author : Tronserve | Tuesday, 8 October 2019

It is not far-fetched to say that the present cybersecurity landscape is quite tumultuous, and that’s true in every industry from retail to finance. Cyber assaults are on the rise, primarily in the manufacturing sector.


One of the major motives why manufacturing has come under fire is simply because cyber threats have grown much more sophisticated in recent years. Things have developed beyond just a software standpoint to hardware — processor vulnerabilities being a prime example.


In actual fact, a recent security report from SonicWall Capture Labs unveiled there were over 74,000 “never-before-seen” complex strikes in 2019. They were so fresh that many of those were without even a signature at the time of discovery.


This shocking information indicates that cyberattacks on manufacturers are going to grow more frequent, more advanced and more successful. There’s a clear need to protect not only conventional manufacturing operations, but also all networks, systems and resulting data — primarily as the manufacturing industry evolves into a more digital-centric ecosystem.


Fortunately, there are cybersecurity tips available to help manufacturers of all sizes protect themselves from cyber threats and prepare themselves for the brave new world of Industry 4.0.


Introducing the NIST Cybersecurity Framework


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed a cybersecurity framework that contains some recommendations and best practices for managing potential cybersecurity threats. Most importantly, it is obtainable to all organizations, including small to medium-sized manufacturers.


Representatives of the MEP National NetworkTM, just like the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, offer flexible, cost-effective approaches to implementing cybersecurity programs that align with the NIST framework, making these protections accessible to even a cost-prohibited company.


The framework lays out five critical activities, or functions, that can be used to achieve a more secure operation. They include:


1. Identify


This first function expressly deals with understanding potential cybersecurity risks to an organization, including its systems, people, assets, data, capabilities and networks. The key question is: What must be done to manage existing risks and mitigate the potential for damage?


Actions the framework recommends in this category include:

·         Controlling who has access to your information

·         Conducting background and security checks for all employees

·         Requiring individual user accounts for each employee

·         Creating cybersecurity policies and procedures


2. Protect


By nature, recognizing leads to taking action — which is the protection aspect of the framework. This is where a manufacturer must develop and implement safeguards for its operations or services. Actions you can take include to protect your operation include:

·         Limiting access to your user data and information

·         Installing surge protector and uninterruptible power supplies

·         Patching your operating systems and software regularly

·         Installing and activating software and hardware firewalls

·         Securing all wireless access points and network

·         Setting up web and email filters

·         Using encryption for sensitive business information

·         Disposing of old computers and media safely

·         Training your employees

3. Detect


An effective monitoring system must be established to determine either a recent cybersecurity event or one that’s ongoing. The well-timed discovery of these attacks is necessary to an effective security strategy. Activities for detecting cyber attacks include:

·         Installing and updating anti-virus and other cybersecurity programs

·         Running anti-virus and anti-spyware programs daily

·         Conducting full system scans daily

·         Maintaining and monitoring detection logs


4. Respond


Upon discovery, every manufacturer must have controls available to respond appropriately to an attack. These include functionality to block them, along with to regain access to a system.


This functionality is fairly different for manufacturers as most providers use only limited networks or wireless connectivity. Industrial-quality access controls are required to monitor not just internal processes and systems, but also that of vendors and involved partners. Dynamic, real-time policy enforcement is essential across the entire network, and not just for local operations.


A response program should include:

·         Developing a plan for information security incidents by determining:

§  Who to call in case of an incident

§  What to do with your data in case of an incident

§  When to alert senior management, emergency personnel, and others

§  The types of activities that constitute an information security incident

·         Know your notification obligations


5. Recover


Mainly the same as data or systems recovery, this function deals with the restoration of impaired or damaged services and content. It should include:

·         Making full backups of essential business data

·         Incremental backups of important business information

·         Assessing and improving your procedures and technologies


One other aspect of this is opening up communications with clients or customers to reveal the impact of an event. If at all possible, it would also include follow-up measures to stop future attacks.


How to Secure Your Company


At last, companies should focus on keeping to NIST’s volunteer framework not simply to prevent severe threats, but also to understand how they and their team can better deal with them. For many organizations — big and small — it’s not a question of whether or not they will experience a cyberattack but when. Being prepared for when that happens is the best way to minimize prospective damage and any operational impact.


The best course of action to secure your company — or to find out just how vulnerable it is — is to partner with experts in manufacturing cybersecurity and the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. Manufacturers ready to take this critical step in their digital evolution should contact their local Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program (MEP) Center. They are really part of the MEP National Network, which includes hundreds of specialists who know how to address the cybersecurity concerns of small and medium-sized manufacturers, and who are well-versed in the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.



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