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Manufacturers need to amp up cyber-security efforts

Almost half of all manufacturers (46 per cent) did not increase investments in cyber-security in the past two years, new figures show. This number grows to 56 per cent among small manufacturers.

The manufacturers' organsation, EEF, the author of the report, is urging makers to invest more, as the number of cyber-security threats, and their costs, are both increasing.

“As technology and data start to play increasingly critical roles in manufacturing, companies will inevitably find themselves more vulnerable to cyber breaches. Our survey highlights that investment in new technology isn’t being matched by investment in managing risks, especially among smaller firms,” says Ms Lee Hopley, Chief Economist at EEF.

Besides the lack of investment in security, 20 per cent of companies also fail to educate their employees on cyber-risks, and just 56 per cent said cyber-security is given serious though at board level.

“Technology is set to transform our industry as part of the 4th industrial revolution, opening up immense opportunities and possibilities but risks run alongside the rewards. It is important that manufacturers are able to identify, understand and put the correct strategies in place to keep their businesses safe and cyber secure,” Hopley adds.

EEF has created a free online tool, which the manufacturers can use to test if their products’ cyber-security can survive in today’s digital world. The tool can also be used to educate manufacturers on cyber-security issues.

Manufacturers can also sign up to be part of focus groups, created to tackle cyber-threats. The tool can be found on this link.

Simon Acott, business and partner development director at Exponential-e commented: “The challenges facing the UK’s manufacturing sector extend far beyond the out-of-date security and under-educated employees that risk compromising IT systems.

“Today’s global marketplace is exposing the limits of manufacturers’ supply chain practices. Increasingly UK manufacturers need to be able to scale, shift and contract operations depending on market requirements all over the world. This shift is driving the adoption of superfast cloud and networking services that can support intelligent supply chains and facilitate changes in customer demand. However, where there is an opportunity there is also risk with connected devices and public cloud services opening up new avenues of attack.

“Alongside investing in security policies and tools, increasingly connected manufacturers must act now to ensure their systems are safe. Moving critical processes onto private network infrastructure that ensures sensitive information is not sent over the public internet and remains on the safe side of the firewall is half the battle. Manufacturers also need to introduce policies and processes that maintain the integrity of networks.

"By exercising due diligence and contracting with third party providers that have certified platforms and a rich portfolio of advanced security services, manufacturers will be able to build collaborative networks that connect with other trading partners but avoid the risk of being exposed.”

Photo credit: jijomathaidesigners / Shutterstock

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a freelance journalist with more than 15 years of experience in writing various types of content, from blogs, whitepapers, and reviews to ebooks, and many more, across sites including Al Jazeera Balkans, TechRadar Pro, IT Pro Portal, and CryptoNews.