Many manufacturing companies take a reactive approach to managing cyber threats, as it can be difficult to predict when and where a security incident will take place. While a defensive posture can help reduce the impact of most cyber risks, it’s important to strive for constant improvement and resolve underlying issues with your security program before new incidents occur. This proactive framework allows for faster response times and a more efficient allocation of IT resources, which can save manufacturers time and money.

Manufacturing has been experiencing an increase in financially motivated breaches in the past couple of years, but espionage is still a strong motivator. Most breaches involve phishing and the use of stolen credentials.  The 2019 Verizon report documented 352 incidents of which 87 confirmed data disclosure. You may be thinking, that is a small number and we agree. Law enforcement agencies estimate the number of cybercrimes that go unreported by businesses number in the millions. In the absence of legal and compliance motivations, there are no incentives for reporting cybercrime.  Therefore, our probability projects are skewed if only considering reported incidents and breaches.

A written security program is one of the most crucial cybersecurity resources for businesses in the manufacturing industry, as it establishes a detailed set of policies, procedures and guidelines to govern your employees’ use of technology. The modern IT landscape is full of complex threats that can jeopardize the integrity of your production systems and internal networks, many of which capitalize on users’ unfamiliarity with common exploitation tactics. This accounts for why most security experts emphasize IT compliance, as a single data breach can lead to significant monetary and reputational losses.

At Certitude Security, we work alongside business leaders to build a comprehensive IT policy roadmap that outlines effective security management practices and controls that are specially tailored to manufacturing environments. Our team of cybersecurity experts can help you anticipate gaps in your security program and develop clear standards for ensuring the integrity, availability and preservation of your company’s essential data.

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Creating an information security program

Successful security programs contain a variety of overlapping policies and procedures that ensure your company’s cybersecurity practices align with your business objectives and regulatory requirements. While manufacturers do not typically collect sensitive consumer or financial data, malicious actors can profit from exploiting vulnerable production hardware, networking tools and intellectual property. Some of the common methods for hacking manufacturers, in order of frequency, include:

URL redirector abuse (DNS redirects)

Path transversal

Buffer overflow

SQL injection

Brute force

Abuse of functionality

Use of backdoor or Command and Control

Exploit vulnerabilities

Use of stolen credentials

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How are these incidences and successful breaches occurring?  By far the most common method (70%+) is through web applications, then followed by Backdoor or Command and Control, VPN, desktop sharing and desktop sharing software. The three top patterns reported in manufacturing breaches were web applications, privilege misuse and cyber espionage.  These three represented 71% of breaches reported. The threat actors for breaches were External (75%), Internal (30%), Multiple parties (6%) and Partner (1%).

While many of these security threats are external in nature, unknowing and sometimes negligent employees also represent a potential entry point for would-be hackers. Integrating user awareness training and least-privilege protocols into your security program can help offset the risk of accidental exposure, but protecting your critical infrastructure from exploitation requires a lot of careful planning. This is especially true for production environments that deploy a range of disparate technologies, as each piece of hardware will have its own security standards and controls. The only way to properly manage your attack surface is to create a written security program that documents every aspect of your protection strategy, from threat detection to disaster recovery.

Certitude Security ’s cybersecurity specialists understand that the pressure to automate and digitize your manufacturing supply chain has generated a number of complexities that can be difficult to address, which is why we are committed to personalized support that puts your specific needs first.

IT management and governance

In addition to employee-focused policies, it’s important to develop procedures and standards for managing your IT assets. The growing use of IoT technologies has created new challenges for manufacturers, as these devices often lack built-in cybersecurity features. Additionally, most IoT devices are shipped with default credentials, making them easy targets for cyber criminals. By building a customized security program, your company can uphold best practices for new hardware deployments and sensor integrations, such as developing strong passwords for authentication and streamlining your device management infrastructure.

Efficient IT administration combines several different domains of concern, including incident detection and response, security governance, compliance and risk management. The cybersecurity policies your company implements should incorporate these capabilities while also outlining the specific roles and responsibilities of your internal or external IT security team. Working with third-party service providers can leave you with limited visibility over your system and network security, which is where Certitude Security can help. We assess the exact parameters of your attack surface and evaluate the performance of your external IT provider to ensure the individual components of your information security program are maintained.

Certitude Security will work with you to assemble effective security policies and controls from the ground up, which can support your production environment, reduce costly downtime and bolster your network protection. Our cybersecurity experts have years of experience building IT security frameworks that incorporate industry-specific certifications and regulatory requirements, so don’t hesitate to reach out with your concerns.

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If you’re interested in learning more about our IT policy and control services, contact us today.

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