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How to avoid manufacturing cyber security risks

All manufacturers want to protect their equipment, employees and customers from cyber security risks, but what is the best way? The reality is there is no secret formula to ensure safety but there are ways to better the odds. Here are the top things to consider when looking at how to avoid manufacturing cyber security threats and stay as safe as possible.

1. Training

Training is vital for all staff. You wouldn’t send a footballer on to the pitch with no knowledge of the game, so why would you allow employees to use computers and computerised equipment without basic cyber security training?

Whether staff are using an email account or operating a complex piece of machinery, training them to be able to identify suspicious activity and report it to the correct member of staff could save your business thousands or even millions. Consider the long-term impact a breech might have on your hard-earned brand the potential impact in your supply chain(s).

2. Antivirus and firewalls

It may seem like a simple step but ensuring you have antivirus software and firewalls installed across your network is one of the best (and easiest) ways to protect your business from a cyber-attack. Such software can be deployed from across the entire network with ease, a small price to pay.

Ensure all your antivirus software (as well as other general apps and programmes) are updated as and when required. We know those update pop-ups can be irritating, however, ignoring them could come at a huge risk. Updates are there to plug holes and improve performance. If a programme, device or application is not updated when required it could leave a gap for hackers and other cyber criminals to access your network.

Make sure all updates are done as soon as they can be and auto enable them where possible.

3. Access and passwords

Only give access where necessary, it is not a matter of trust, if someone’s login gets comprised, cybercriminals could potentially gain access to the entire network. Only give staff access to server areas, equipment and files that they need to do their jobs properly. Additional access can be granted at a further date but restricting access where it isn’t needed is a great start to minimise risk.

Physical access also benefits from being restricted. If everyone on site has a master key to all areas, should one get lost or into the wrong hands the entire facility is at risk. Be mindful when granting access, again this can always be modified at a later date should an employee’s requirements and remits change.

Having strong passwords is key, not just for manufacturers but for everyday life. Avoid using the same passwords for multiple accounts as well as easy to guess passwords such as ‘password’ or ‘12345’. Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) is also a good option. MFA grants access after two or more ‘factors’ are fulfilled. Some common MFA factors are:

• Password
• Additional pin number
• Fingerprint
• Additional device or key
• Voice recognition

4. New technologies

Another step to take to prevent any cyber security risks is by ensuring your Wi-Fi connection is secure is essential. This is not just for emails and browsing on the web, with many manufacturers now implementing internet of things (IoT) technologies into their processes, internet security is more important than ever.

A joint Ponemon Institute and Shared Assessments report showed that less than 20% of risk professionals could identify all IoT devices within their organisations. Ensure your IT team is aware of any new devices, however big or small. Think of it this way, if it has an internet connection, it can be hacked or manipulated.

5. Supply chain

If you work within a supply chain, then you definitely need to bear in mind the security of each business in the chain. While the majority may be on top of their security, if one is lacking then they pose a risk to all in the network. A supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Supply chains are becoming increasingly desirable to cyber criminals as there are ultimately more users and data to target. There are however some simple steps businesses can take to minimise the risk:

• Perform a cyber risk audit at the beginning of new business relationships.
• Conduct regular reviews of everyone’s cyber security.
• If you notice a risk or area of weakness, inform other businesses as a matter of urgency.
• If your business experiences a breach, notify all parties in the supply chain as soon as possible.

For more information on how to protect your manufacturing business from cyber risks, get in touch with our team here.

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