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Manufacturers Facing Increased Ransomware Attacks… Time to Take Cybersecurity Seriously

Manufacturers Facing Increased Ransomware Attacks… Time to Take Cybersecurity Seriously

Ransomware attacks are on the increase as hackers realize that, due to COVID-19, businesses are wholly relying on their computers and data to be productive. Recently we have seen an uptick in cyberattacks on manufacturers. By holding data hostage in the post-coronavirus world, hackers increase their leverage and their chances of getting paid. Learn how cybersecurity protects your company against a ransomware attack and why having a backup is critical to success.

The IIoT Has Become Invaluable Due to COVID-19

Previously, we discussed how the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the future of manufacturing and is transforming industries such as gas and oil, education, healthcare, and more. The IIoT works by allowing machines and other industrial infrastructure to “speak” to each other and report their status. For example, the device determining the quantity of metal to pour into a mold can be connected to Wi-Fi. This device can either be opened or closed automatically based on the temperature reading from another device. By utilizing IIoT technology, businesses can increase productivity while reducing the need for human workers.

As automation increases in the workplace due to COVID-19, IIoT devices have taken a prominent position because they allow many manufacturers to operate with reduced staff due to social distancing recommendations or worse, layoffs. IIoT technology has become increasingly invaluable during this time as it enables operations via automation to be more efficient with little-to-no input from a physical (i.e., human) workforce.  

With Automation Comes Ransomware Risk

The advantage IIoT brings to manufacturing is the ease in which devices can communicate with each other via the internet and Wi-Fi. Since IIoT devices connect and operate over the internet, some devices are vulnerable to cyberattacks due to a variety of reasons inherent within the technology:

  • Unable to be upgraded easily when vulnerabilities are discovered 
  • Insecure data transfer and storage protocols
  • Unpatched embedded operating systems and software

Recently, we discussed the increased rates of ransomware attacks hospitals and school districts are facing. These organizations rely on their ability to maintain access to their data, as losing it can severely damage their ability to provide services essential for the people in their care. This can literally be a matter of life and death in regards to South Dakota rural hospitals. Bad actors realize the value the data has and target these organizations and their data for ransom.

When it comes to manufacturers, a successful ransomware attack can mean a big payday for the hacker. For example, a bad actor may control the IIoT device's activity, causing the system the device is monitoring to fail. Moreover, if a hacker gains access to a manufacturer's network, there is also the possibility they will be able to gain access to any intellectual property. 

A manufacturer's intellectual property may have as much, if not more, value than their customer's information. If you add into the mix the ability to manipulate the quality of the products produced with the IIoT device, and you can understand why a hacker would target manufacturers with a ransomware attack. The potential to gain profit from compromising client data, intellectual property, and production, all from one ransomware attack, makes manufacturers a high-priority target for hackers. 

Worst of all, they might not be targeting your business directly, just the device itself, anticipating a payoff from some other manufacturer who uses it. You’d just be an unfortunate bystander.

3 Questions to Consider in Regards to Cybersecurity

Do you have robust security protocols in place?

Not just detecting and addressing vulnerabilities in the network, but do you also have physical security like security cameras, and have provided your team with cybersecurity training? One thing to consider when it comes to hackers gaining access to your system: most likely, it will be due to a phishing attempt, so it benefits your business’ security if your team makes phishing training a priority. Ransomware attacks have become such an area of concern that the Joint Cybersecurity Advisory has issued a warning to Healthcare and Public Health Sectors.

Do you have an incident response and management team in place?

An incident response team is a group (in-house or outsourced) who have the expertise to contain and remediate a cyberattack. Successful incident response teams have two traits in common, they are experts in their respective areas, and they have a plan. Some steps to consider in your incident plan are:

  • 24/7 monitoring: The first line of defense that, when done well, will contain intrusions before they can spread into the entire network.
  • Incident Manager: Develops the messaging (if needed) to keep all parties in the know and identify and delegate tasks to address the issue.
  • Tech support: Provides technical expertise and analysis to address the issue. 
  • Threat Intelligence Team: Understands the cyberthreat trends and develops a proactive plan to repel such an attack from being successful.

Do you have a backup and recovery system in place?

The only real defense against a ransomware attack is if your data can’t be used as a threat against you. For that to be possible, you must be able to afford to lose access to it and be confident that you can retrieve it.  In other words, your data needs to be backed up and recoverable with a BDR (backup and disaster recovery) plan

Local businesses tend to only view disaster planning as something in response to South Dakota’s weather when, in reality, disaster planning must realize that disasters come in all sizes. Your organizations must be prepared for all disasters, natural and man-made, including a cyberattack. 

Finally, if you can’t afford to lose your data, you can’t afford not to have it backed up. If your data or access to it is critical and isn’t backed up, you reduce your options to defend your business. This is because if you’re the victim of a ransomware attack and can’t retrieve your data, you may find you have no choice but to pay to have it released or risk losing it.

Is Your Network Secure?

Gone are the days when all a business had to worry about were computer viruses. There are severe penalties for experiencing data breaches, and in a post-coronavirus world, businesses can’t afford to have any form of disruption to their productivity. As we have unfortunately witnessed, many South Dakota companies have been unable to weather the storm the pandemic brought, and those that have, may not survive another blow. If you haven’t done so before, now is the time that your business treats cybersecurity seriously.

Losing control of your data or your computers and servers due to a ransomware attack could very well be the last straw. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. If you invest in a BDR solution and have your data reliably backed up and secured, no hacker can take it away from you. A BDR allows you the luxury to say, “No, we won’t pay,” to a hacker with the confidence that you’re not paying the ransom out of principle but because you can afford not to. 

Finally, just because you’re a smaller business, don’t think you’re safe from ransomware attacks, just because you don’t hear about small business breaches doesn’t mean they don’t happen. For more information about our BDR and other cybersecurity solutions, call 605-341-3873 today to schedule an appointment.

Join us for our Cybersecurity Webinar on: Feb 18, 2021 10:00 AM Mountain Time (US and Canada). Register here: https://ktconnections.com/cybersecurity-webinar

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