What Do Cyber Threats Look Like in the Manufacturing Industry?

As new technology advances, cyber threats which include information theft, data loss and data under attack are omnipresent.

No matter what industry one operates in, every working individual is at risk of being hacked. The metal fabrication industry as a whole is no exception when it comes to cyber threats. In fact, the “IBM X-Force 2018 Threat Intelligence Index” found that the manufacturing sector is one of the industries most frequently cyber hacked in the world.

The need to increase your investment in cybersecurity technology is now. As regulated by the POPI Act, ensuring your customer's and vendors’ information is protected is imperative, and every attempt has been made to ensure that any related data is not put at risk. Over and above your vendors and customers, both your own and your employee’s data needs to be protected too.

Manufacturers that use Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software need to be aware of the vulnerabilities and threats the software could pose if not well protected. ERP software is a mission-critical tool that intersects with so many important aspects of the business such as:

  • Inventory counts
  • Financial records
  • Pricing information
  • Manufacturing details
  • Customer requests

The fewer cybersecurity features you have, the more susceptible to attack your ERP will be. Smaller manufacturers should also be in tune with where important data is stored and who has access to it.

While it may seem like a daunting and possibly costly task to implement cybersecurity, one should keep in mind that even smaller and custom manufacturers run the same risk as larger manufacturers. Prevention of cyber threats will most often be far more economical than the alternative, should your business become a victim.

How Do Cyber Threats Happen?

Technological advancements give hackers more tools at their disposal. Whether impersonating a friend, colleague, or someone they trust, a hacker, using social-profiling tactics, could email an employee a malicious link or document to open which downloads spyware onto their computer.

Alternatively, the hacker could entice an employee into sharing confidential information like financial data, bank information, customer lists, or product specifications. More often than not, the ERP is the primary target for hackers given that all-important data is conveniently housed in a software central location.

Hackers are also notorious for stealing customer data such as order requests, contacts, and payment information and then using that sensitive data to commit fraud. More serious instances of cyber threats can result in ransomware attacks where confidential and sensitive data is held to ransom. This could be highly detrimental to a manufacturer and put a company out of business overnight with possible mounting debt on top of it all.

It’s important to realise too that cyber threats don’t always come from the outside and although rare, there have been cases where the perpetrators have turned out to be disgruntled employees.

5 Top Tips to Evade Cyber Threats

  • Educate employees on common hacking tricks. How to identify them and avoid potential breaches.
  • Protect email with strong software tools that offer protection against spam, phishing attacks, malware and viruses.
  • Update software regularly as these updates contain crucial security patches. For ERP platforms also keep any hardware, network devices, operating systems and antivirus software updated.
  • Set up controls that define and manage how data can be shared outside your organisation.
  • Servers that house ERP software should be physically protected with locked doors and restricted access.

Going forward and into the future, cybersecurity is one tech trend that should be at the forefront of your business practices to prevent damaging cyber threats.

Steelmor is the leading supplier and manufacturer of stainless steel in South Africa. Give us a call today on 011 747 5700 for the best advice on all things stainless steel.

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