Cyber Attacks in Manufacturing

Popular Types of Cyber Attacks In Manufacturing

Cyber attacks are on the rise with one report suggesting that they have increased by 59%. Cyber attacks in manufacturing do not gain as much news coverage or discussion as attacks on retail stores or financial businesses but they are alarmingly common. It’s important for businesses to be aware of some of the most common types of manufacturing cyber attacks so that you can take the necessary steps to protect your company. 

Identity Theft

Identity theft is one of the most commonly reported forms of cyber attacks. It’s easy to assume that cyber-attacks on manufacturing businesses involving identity theft are rare, but that’s not the case. These types of attacks can either target the customer data or the data of employees. Once accessed, the information can be used for a variety of financial purposes. 

Example: Autoneum Cyber Attack

Workers at Automeum Manufacturing Plant were victims of identity theft when hackers used the info to file false tax returns. This was possible because the company failed to tell the employees about the attack until two weeks later. It is crucial to remain transparent and to education people who may have been impacted.

One of the issues with these attacks is that they can often remain undetected for quite some time. For this reason it is essential to have the right cyber security systems in place.

In another attack on Titan Manufacturing and Distributing Inc, customer data was stolen. The business was able to quickly recognize this and provided clear information to their clients and customers. 

Phishing & Spear Phishing 

Phishing is a tactic where a criminal will seek out information and data on your business or your customers. Rather than stealing this, they will simply request the information. The classic example of a phishing scam is the ‘Nigerian Prince’ who is ready to donate millions to you. All you need to do is provide your bank details and a copy of your passport. Today, users are fairly astute at recognizing a scam like this but in business things can be more discreet and subtle.

For instance, a phishing scam could pose as a lead of your business or a potential investor. With this type of identity, you are going to be far more willing to provide the information they want. The information phishing scams can seem less sensitive too. For instance, they might request email addresses that are not public. However, even this can be valuable information to a scammer. 

Spear Phishing

Spear phishing is far more difficult to spot. Here, the email will actually arrive from a trusted source. They will also typically be personalized and directed towards an individual. Again, this can make them seem far more genuine and that is precisely what makes them dangerous. 

Why Cyber Attacks In Manufacturing Happening?

There are multiple reasons why a hacker could target a manufacturing company with this type of scam. It could:

  • Provide information they need to hold a business to ransom
  • Deliver info they can sell to the competition
  • Help them find ways to target suppliers and business partners

An undetected phishing breach may last for months and provide hackers with as much time as they need to damage the manufacturing company from the inside as well as the customers. 

Related: DDoS Attacks: The Good, Bad, the Ugly

How Do These Attacks Happen?

Based on a report by the NNT, about 58% of malware in manufacturing includes the download of software such as trojan viruses. Thirty-three percent of these cyber attacks include the collection of data. 

In 2015, Seagate was targeted with a fake email from the CEO. The employee in question then shared income tax data, leaving the employees at risk of fraud. While the company offered two-year credit protection, it proved ineffective as the hackers used the data to make false tax declarations. 

In another case, a cyber criminal created a false website for Gilbane Building Company and targeted a manufacturer for LED bulbs. The idea was to get the product delivered to the address without paying for them. The hacker was actually unsuccessful in this case as the company immediately recognized the fake email and website. 

What Can You Do? 

As is clear from the above example, knowledge is everything when avoiding a phishing scam. You need to make sure that you are paying attention to the small details. For instance, you should check whether an email used is the same as the one listed for a client. Of course, you also need to make sure you are educating team members who may not be aware of the danger. Training surrounding data disclosure will guarantee that hacks are avoided. 

Supply Chain Attacks

Efficiency is vital when you are running a manufacturing business. You can keep costs low and ensure that you remain competitive as part of this sector. One of the ways to do this is to share data between vendors and suppliers. Unfortunately, this leaves your business open to a potential attack. 

When Will Supply Chain Cyber Attacks In Manufacturing Occur?

Typically, this will be an issue when someone infiltrates your system by using security holes in the system of a supplier or partner. Since they are connected to your systems, the supply chain is then left vulnerable. Big companies are actually more vulnerable here because there can be multiple partners in a chain which provides a variety of different access points for a hacker. 

Why Are Manufacturers Being Targeted?

There are numerous reasons why manufacturers are now being targeted including:

  • Globalization leading to an extended supply chain that is more difficult to secure
  • A reliance on outsourcing to companies that do not have the necessary cybersecurity
  • A Heavier reliance on third-party services to provide support 
  • Lower commitment to crucial security checks

The most widely known example of a supply chain attack was on Target in 2013. The US company was hit after a business that supplied their aircon systems was breached. The hackers then used this breach to gain entry to the Target network and dive into customer data. This was after the company had invested $1.6 million in a cybersecurity program highlighting the danger of one unsecured link. Since then Target has spent $61 million in response to the attack. 

How Can Manufacturers Protect Themselves From A Supply Chain Attack?

This is one of the most prevalent cyber attacks in manufacturing today. To protect themselves a business needs to make sure that companies they work with are being carefully vetted. You also need to make sure that you are running regular checks and testing your security standards. You should be working to build a cyber-resilient network that provides multiple levels of defense. Ultimately, you should make it as difficult as possible for a hacker to complete an attack with multiple steps necessary. 

Malware Spam

For the typical individual, spam messages are simply annoying but for a business they can be a far more significant threat. At the very least, dealing with spam is going to impact productivity levels. However it’s also possible that spam could include dangerous downloads that can leave your systems vulnerable like malware.

One of the issues for manufacturing is that spam emails aren’t always easy to identify. It can be tricky for employees to assess whether an email is spam or a potential lead. Similar to phishing scams, these are becoming more subtle and increasingly personalized. 

That’s why it’s important to make sure that the right security systems are in place. Unfortunately, a staggering 75% of manufacturers aren’t prepared for the threats of today. Once the malware accesses the network it can also quickly spread through the system. 

What Can You Do?

To ensure that you are protecting your business from this type of scam, you need to make sure that you are updating your systems with the latest antivirus software. You should also:

  • Safeguard passwords and usernames
  • Ensure firewalls are setup the right way
  • Utilize file encryption
  • Implement two or even three-factor verification 

Compromised Web Pages

Finally, if a website is compromised, a hacker will have taken control. They can then use the website to take advantage of your business partners and leads, targeting them. They can fill it with incorrect information and change contact points. So, again, this is another possibility for a phishing scam. A website can even be embedded with data mining tools without you being aware of the issue. 

Why Is This a Problem?

This will always damage the brand reputation of your business. It will immediately alert clients and suppliers that your manufacturing company is not secure. Businesses will also be less reluctant to form partnerships or sign contracts with your company. 

What Can You Do?

Websites need to be monitored carefully and you should always check the information displayed. You also need to make sure that you are exploring the operating systems behind the user interface. For this, you need to make sure that you are hiring security experts. They will guarantee that any issue with website security is dealt with immediately. In 2019, it was reported that 620 million accounts had been stolen from 16 hacked websites and were then sold on the dark web. 

The Wrap Up on Cyber Attacks in Manufacturing 

The best way to protect your business is to ensure that you have the right level of support. By outsourcing the cyber security of your manufacturing company to a business like BitLyft, you can guarantee that all the right measures will be in place. Preemptive systems will be developed and you will have the peace of mind that your business has not been left vulnerable to an attack that could cripple your company. 

BitLyft helps businesses just like yours with risk assessment and putting protocols in place to mitigate risks in the future. We will start with a FREE ASSESSMENT and go from there.

About the Author

Jason Miller

Jason Miller

Jason is a Chief Executive Officer of BitLyft Cyber Security. He has spent the last 19 years of his career focusing on network, system administration, and cloud technologies. He is passionate about helping businesses embrace the next generation of technology including cloud adoption and high performance scaling software.

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