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Cybersecurity is one of the most prominent issues facing electronics today. Industrial sectors have become increasingly digitized, and security is now a concern for the facilities producing these devices, not just the products themselves. These threats are rising, too, making cybersecurity for manufacturing essential.
Manufacturing became the most targeted industry for cybercrime in 2021, largely because the sector is ill-prepared to defend against these threats. Electronics manufacturers that hope to reverse that trend need to understand how cybersecurity impacts their organizations. Here’s how security affects the sector today and what manufacturers can do to improve it.
Ensuring Consistent Production
One of the most significant impacts of cybersecurity for electronics manufacturing is its effect on production. Modern manufacturing relies on digital tools and software, and cyberattacks can halt workflows by taking these resources offline. This downtime can exacerbate the already substantial backlogs and shortages many electronics manufacturers face today.
Industry 4.0 technologies take these threats to new heights. Cybercriminals that hack into IoT-connected machinery might gain remote control over heavy equipment. Attackers could shut robotic systems off or cause them to malfunction. In light of these risks, having reliable cybersecurity is critical to ensuring consistent and safe production in light of these risks.
Protecting Sensitive Information
Implementing better security controls will also help electronics manufacturers protect proprietary information. The electronics sector is highly competitive, so safeguarding trade secrets and similar intellectual property is essential to a business’s success. More companies store these files on the cloud or in unprotected servers, making them vulnerable to data breaches.
Electronics manufacturers may also store other sensitive data, such as employees’ names, addresses and financial information. Cybercriminals that breach HR records could steal these personal details and use them to commit further cybercrime against workers or hold them for ransom. This introduces considerable privacy and legal risks to manufacturers.
Enabling Business Growth
Cybersecurity will become crucial to business growth as cybercrime becomes a more prominent issue. Rising awareness of third-party vulnerabilities pushes companies to be more discerning about who they partner with. Consequently, manufacturers with high security standards will have an easier time finding new partnership opportunities, while those that lack them may struggle to secure new contracts.
This is particularly impactful for electronics manufacturers seeking government partnerships. New regulations like the Department of Defense’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) require certain security standards to earn contracts. As a result, manufacturers with the highest level of security will be able to land more lucrative business opportunities.
Preventing Economic Losses
Cybersecurity for manufacturing impacts companies’ finances through more than just partnership opportunities. Cyberattacks will become increasingly costly as electronics businesses rely more on digital technologies and data. Implementing proper security is becoming a critical economic safety measure, given how common these attacks have become.
Cybercrime advances quickly, so no organization can ever assume they’re 100% safe from digital threats. However, those with more thorough cybersecurity strategies will be able to minimize the losses from successful attacks by enabling faster responses and restricting lateral movement. Manufacturers without these resources and plans will likely experience more losses and lose more in each incident.
How to Improve Cybersecurity for Manufacturing
Given this potential impact, all electronics manufacturers should rethink their security posture. Specific measures will vary between organizations, but here are a few best practices to improve cybersecurity for manufacturing.
Secure the IoT
Another important part of cybersecurity for electronics manufacturers is addressing IoT vulnerabilities. As Industry 4.0 initiatives grow, these facilities will feature more connected infrastructure, growing businesses’ attack surfaces. Manufacturers must segment their networks to ensure these devices don’t become gateways to more sensitive systems and data.
IoT devices’ limited built-in protections and default settings are another concern. Manufacturers should change these passwords, encrypt all IoT traffic and disable unused features to mitigate vulnerabilities. Automated monitoring software may also be necessary to find and respond to unusual activity as these networks become increasingly complex.
Technical vulnerabilities are the most immediately evident, but electronics manufacturers can’t overlook their human vulnerabilities. Worker errors are behind 52% of cybersecurity incidents in industrial sectors, posing significant risks regardless of manufacturers’ technical defences. Consequently, cybersecurity training for all employees should become a regular practice.
This training should cover strong password management, how to spot phishing attempts and why these steps matter to the employees themselves. Making personal connections, like emphasizing the potential toll on workers’ privacy in a breach, will encourage compliance. Regular refresher courses will also help ensure employees don’t forget crucial best practices.
Mistakes can still happen despite regular, thorough training. Similarly, some factories’ large IoT networks are too complex to ensure no vulnerabilities remain. In light of these risks, electronics manufacturers should restrict employees’ and devices’ access privileges to minimize lateral movement.
Manufacturers should implement the principle of least privilege when restricting apps, devices and users. This step won’t prevent breaches, but it will mitigate their impact. It’ll also streamline the audit process when striving for security certifications or reviewing incidents by making it easier to trace where breaches originated.
Cybersecurity for Electronics Manufacturing Is Crucial
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of cybersecurity for manufacturing businesses. As the electronics industry grows and becomes a more tempting target for cybercriminals, manufacturers must ensure they meet higher security standards.
When more of these organizations know how cybersecurity benefits them, the industry will reverse its historical trend of overlooking security. Manufacturers can then ensure a more successful, less disruption-prone future.