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How to maximise cyber security across multiple manufacturing sites

Large manufacturers often have multiple sites and complex supply chains which increases potential vulnerabilities when considering cyber security risks. But knowing how to maximise cyber security across your multiple manufacturing sites will help prevent any breaches and keep your data and processes safe.

According to Computer Weekly, almost half of UK manufacturers have experienced a cyber security incident, with Enscite also reporting that the manufacturing sector is the third most hit by cyberattacks in the UK.

Managing cyber security risks on just one site can be challenging let alone at multiple locations. Here is everything you need to consider to ensure all your manufacturing sites are as cyber-safe as possible.

Have a dedicated team

Most manufacturers will have a dedicated IT or cyber security team; however, they may only be based in the head office or one central location. Having a dedicated member of staff on each site (or at the very least, regular visits and audits) is crucial to being able to identify cyber security risks, data breaches or weak spots and manage them effectively and quickly.

There are many cyber-attacks that can lay undetected to the untrained eye until it is too late. It can take companies over six months to identify a data breach, therefore having specialist staff on the ground at each location can ensure that any breaches are identified and dealt with as soon as possible.

Provide training for all employees – your first and last line of defence

Training is essential for ensuring cyber security across multiple manufacturing sites. Providing training just for your IT team is not enough – all staff need to be trained in basic cyber security, covering everything from how to identify a spam email to the reporting procedure in your organisation. Whether they’re working with a single email account or a specialist piece of computer operated equipment, cyber security training is essential.

It is not always possible for the IT team to be on hand 24 hours a day but if all staff are vigilant and aware of what to look out for, it can help protect not just their site, but the entire network including admin systems, manufacturing equipment, specialist software and customer data.

Be vigilant with technology

More and more manufacturers are investing in artificial intelligence, robotics, Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and Industry 4.0. These are incredible developments in the manufacturing sector that can provide significant value to manufacturing sites and end products alike.

However, with great connectivity comes greater cyber security risk. The more devices that are connected to the internet and are controlled via automated technology, the more targets there are for hackers and cyber criminals. Ensure your entire network is covered by firewalls, anti-virus software and is password protected. Multi-factor authentication (including biometrics) is a great step to enforce, adding an extra layer of protection to devices, accounts and equipment.

Be equal across sites

Ensure all sites have the same level of cyber security in place. If one site has a weak spot, hackers can manipulate this to gain access to the entire network covering all locations. While manufacturers will want to invest in tools and equipment to improve the work they produce and the value they can give to customers, investing in cyber security programmes, equipment and training is just as important.

This will not only protect your business but also your customers’ information. With almost 60% of customers asking for proof of the robustness of a manufacturer’s cyber security system, its importance can’t be ignored. Having an even blanket of protection over all sites means that each base and each customer has the best possible chance at avoiding a cyber-attack.

We work with a number of manufacturing businesses across a variety of sectors to ensure their work across multiple sites is as safe as possible. If you’re looking to improve the cyber security of your manufacturing sites, get in touch with a member of our team here.

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