Cybercrime in manufacturing

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Ransomware, Hackers and Scammers – Oh My!

As if we don’t have enough to worry about, Internet related crimes against small to medium size companies – including manufacturing plants – is on the rise. According to a recent study by IBM Security manufacturing is now the second most hacked industry, and leading virus/malware protection company Symantec, reports that 43% of last year’s cyberattacks were aimed at small businesses.

Given manufacturing’s increased use of interconnectivity the door is open for hackers to shut down production in any size factory. A favorite tool is Internet delivered ransomware that holds computer-based systems and/or data hostage until the victim pays up. Of course, if the company does pay, there’s no guarantee that the system will return to normal, or that it won’t be hacked again.

Another threat is the theft of intellectual property, such as engineering drawings, CAD/CAM files and sensitive customer information through the planting of spyware into your computer network. Then there are the more common identity theft scams such as bogus but official looking emails that request banking, credit card or other information used to drain a company’s cash and rack up debt.

Three of the most important things you can do to protect your company from cybercrime are:

  1. Be proactive: Protecting your enterprise from cyber criminals involves setting up as many barriers to entry as possible. This means installing and maintaining anti-viral software, and setting firewalls for every computer, machine control, router and any other connected device. It’s also a good idea to hire an IT security firm to analyze your systems and recommend other ways to safeguard them.

  1. Educate employees: One of the most serious threats to your cybersecurity is internal. Innocent actions by employees who don’t understand the nature of cybercrime is often how hackers plant malware in your system. Leading issues to cover with employees include: regularly changing and strengthening passwords, restricting access to various parts of your system, awareness of email scams, and regulating the use of personal devices that can access and possibly deliver malware to your network.

  1. Establish a backup strategy: (1) Set up automatic backups to a secure cloud server. These typically have more robust security than the average small to mid-size business can afford. (2) Have a redundant, in-house backup system controlled by software to automatically back up several times each day. You’ll also need to document how to recover data from your backup systems, if necessary.

Like all criminals, those using cyberspace to carry out their schemes are constantly coming up with new methods. Although there’s no way to protect against every possible threat, taking steps like these can help make your business more difficult to disrupt.