The manufacturing sector is benefitting from connectivity, yet its limited understanding of cyber-security that is leaving it subject to significant threat.

Recent warnings from the defence secretary regarding cyber-warfare targeting the UK must be seen as a big caution to the manufacturing industry. As advances in technology continue to offer great benefits to many companies in the sector, it does bring some relative risks with it. Cyber-security must no longer be seen as an optional extra in business operations and insurance policies, but a must for organisations to organise. Cyber-attacks have the capacity to significantly affect manufacturing plants and machines, as well as compromise the security of the products, production lines and supply chains, and subsequently results in costs for businesses.

The importance of engineers in understanding technological developments and the resulting cybersecurity advancements is paramount in ensuring the progression of the industry. Too often, manufacturing organisations believe cybersecurity is more of a concern for B2C organisations who have access to large volumes of sensitive data; however, cybersecurity encompasses much more than this and can leave the manufacturing sector more vulnerable to attacks. Cyber-attacks on manufacturing businesses can cause disruptions to business operations, can affect the safety of employees, can result in financial and intellectual property theft, or even expose confidential business information.

Furthermore, the manufacturing industry specialises in the combination of components, which are often sourced from other places in the world. With this being said, does your organisation know the security of these components and their security throughout their own lifecycle? Are these materials secure, and can they withstand threats, not only now but in the foreseeable future?

The Anti-Counterfeiting Forum has released an estimated cost of £30bn to the UK economy through counterfeiting. There is an increasing amount of counterfeit electronic components coming into the country, especially OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers).

This is where good SRM (supplier relationship management) is imperative in helping organisations prepare and manage their supply security, as well as ensuring their products meet consumer expectations. Real-time supply chain information through IIOT (Industrial Internet of Things) is now making it easier for organisations to communicate, discover issues and monitor material flow.

However, the systems utilised in manufacturing industries could also be the security threat themselves, with examples including the recalls of Volkswagen vehicles because of software vulnerabilities. The result? A fallen market cap of €25 billion.

How, exactly, do we utilise and take advantage of AI technology and pattern-recognition approaches in manufacturing, whilst also eliminating their vulnerabilities?

As technology develops, so must the industry and those who work in it to utilise the benefits it brings, but also the threats they create. Cybersecurity must be prioritised by the manufacturing sector.

Get in touch with our experts today to utilise their years of experience within manufacturing procurement for your own business operations.

Article by: Michael Hully