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5 Must-Know Cybersecurity Best Practices for the Manufacturing Industry

As the number of Internet of Things devices has increased in manufacturing, so have the cyber threats that could lead to hacking. Manufacturing industries face a variety of cybersecurity concerns, such as product tampering, physical damage, operational disruption, and data theft.

Cyberattacks are now routinely targeting every industrial sector. Statista says more than 15 million data breaches occurred worldwide in 2022. The weakness is the attitude that they aren’t the victims because they don’t have a significant amount of customer data, so they don’t need to worry about cybersecurity.

As a manufacturer, you must know the best possible OT cybersecurity practices to save your manufacturing unit. This blog will explore the five best practices you must learn to protect from cyberattacks. Let’s get started.

Cybersecurity Best Practices for the Manufacturing Industry

1. Securing Internal Systems

Understanding and separating your networks are crucial for an organization. You can use this to isolate essential manufacturing systems and implement network security policies to lower risk throughout the enterprise.

It is advised that businesses check the linkages between their internal systems, the workings of their servers, and the networks of other suppliers they interact with.

When linking to virtual private networks (VPNs), equivalent secure access solutions should be used. All traffic should be restricted to that single dedicated, secured network.

Traditional IT environments are distinct from operational technology settings. OT cybersecurity needs particular knowledge and expertise. Steps must be taken to control and connect systems, which calls for using the OT cybersecurity guide.

The guide on OT cybersecurity helps organizations understand the unique characteristics of OT environments and the importance of a layered approach to security that includes technical and organizational measures. It also offers helpful suggestions for businesses to improve their OT security posture and abide by pertinent laws and requirements.

Also, any third-party vendor you collaborate with should be asked if they utilize unique admin credentials for every client. These identical credentials could be used to hack other organizations, including yours if any of those providers’ clients are compromised.

It is becoming more crucial to restrict network access as vendors are given access to an organization’s network. Enhancing operational technology security involves limiting advisers’ access to the necessary programs or solutions.

2. Install and Run Anti-Virus Systems

Antivirus software is critical in defending your manufacturing operations and assets as cyber threats are getting more advanced and standard.

Antivirus software detects dangerous malware by analyzing your systems. When malware is detected, the program can take various measures to prohibit it from causing damage, such as quarantining or destroying the malicious attachment. 

Furthermore, antivirus software can give real-time security by tracking your systems for any unusual activity that could suggest a malware attack. Having your antivirus software up to date guarantees that it can identify and block the most recent threats. It lowers the danger of malware entering and harming your devices.

3. Employ Jump Host

Because manufacturing supply chains are interconnected, firms must include safety points to prohibit cybercriminals from stealing numerous systems. For instance, if PLCs (programmable logic controllers) are not protected on the network, they are easily vulnerable to hacking. 

PLCs manufacture machineries like pick-and-place machines and other automated devices like computer numerical control (CNC) machines. The results could be devastating if any sabotage occurs and goes unnoticed for even a brief period. 

One such attack occurred in Saudi Arabia back in August 2017. PLCs must be secured against illegal access. They can benefit from the protection of a Jump Box or Jump Server from outside dangers.

This uses a computer on an isolated network, allowing authorized employees to access the PLC. When upgrading is required, the PLC and computer are connected externally; otherwise, they are shielded from assault.

4. Use Multi-Factor Methods

Nevertheless, with authentication, more than having a password is required. With multi-factor identification, all your system’s servers, apps, and other things could also be safeguarded. Although crucial, passwords and login credentials can be intercepted by other parties and are subject to brute-force assaults.

You may feel confident that your business will be safe from hackers when you have an MFA element, such as a specific hardware token or fingerprints. MFA works by demanding more verification information (factors).

One-time passwords are one of the most prevalent MFA components that users encounter (OTP). You commonly receive four- to eight-digit OTPs via mail, SMS, or a mobile phone app.

OTPs create a new code each time an authentication request is made. An increasing counter or a time value—is used to construct the code.

5. Regular Backup

Regular backups are just as crucial as regular updates. An essential cybersecurity best practice is routinely backing up your vital data and systems. Business needs and the data type should be considered when determining how frequently to back up data from critical systems. As a best practice, backups should be kept in a distant location, encrypted, and ideally have separate retention times.

Moreover, isolating backups from network connections can avoid ransomware spread. The majority of ransomware variations look for and delete/encrypt accessible backups. If they are isolated, computers can be restored to their previous states if ransomware infects them and encrypts their data.

Regularly testing the backup and restoration procedure is another crucial component of OT cybersecurity. You must verify your method’s effectiveness; there is a better time to conduct these experiments than a calamity. They ought to undergo regular planning, scheduling, and testing. The documentation for processes and procedures should then be modified in light of the findings.

Final Thoughts

These practices will only be helpful if you use your cybersecurity tools properly. Manufacturers must make it simple and feasible for workers to adhere to security procedures. 

Please explain to your staff why cybersecurity is crucial for the manufacturing sector. Your team will better understand how to secure the overall business if they are provided details about how attacks affect other manufacturers.

You won’t need just one of these technologies to safeguard your manufacturing company from a cyberattack. To ensure that you can assure consumers of the reliability of your cybersecurity, you need to adhere to various procedures.

Various solutions will be effective for multiple businesses, and the broadest possible adoption is essential to prevent weak network points. So, you must identify the solutions that work for your company and the method of operation.