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Top 5 Information Security Trends in 2022: Manufacturing

Internet-enabled manufacturers must take extra steps to secure operational technology.

Cybercrime has risen sharply since the beginning of the global pandemic and the shift to remote work. While tech companies and critical infrastructure providers have become common targets, manufacturers are quickly becoming one of the most frequently targeted organizations in the United States. 

Multiple factors have converged to put manufacturers in cybercriminals’ crosshairs. The most important of these is that many companies currently are undergoing digital transformation initiatives bringing Internet connectivity to operational technologies previously out of reach. 

Manufacturers that deploy solutions to improve the usability of their technology also risk exposing that technology to unauthorized users. To meet this risk, small businesses and enterprise-level manufacturers alike need to incorporate robust information security policies into their operational technology.

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Cybersecurity Risks for Small Manufacturers and Federal Suppliers 

According to NIST data, 55% of small and mid-sized businesses have experienced at least one security incident. Just under half of spear-phishing attacks target small businesses, and six out of ten impacted businesses are severely impaired by cyberattacks. 

Small business manufacturing is particularly important to the NIST because government agencies offer preferential treatment to small businesses when awarding contracts. The US Small Business Federal Procurement Scorecard shows billions of dollars of year-over-year growth in the value of small business contracts. For example, the Department of Defense is a well-known supporter of small manufacturers. 

However, the Federal government must also protect sensitive data and IT systems. That’s why it holds its small business providers accountable for maintaining DFARS compliance. That, alongside other information security regulations, provides a framework for protecting small manufacturers against the most common types of attacks and breaches: 


Infographic Source: NIST


Top 5 Information Security Trends in Manufacturing

Manufacturers are beginning to respond to the need for a scalable, on-demand information security service that is both robust and compliant. Finding federally approved ways to keep unauthorized users out of their systems and away from potentially sensitive or classified projects is now a top priority. 

We’ve identified five ways security-oriented manufacturers are achieving these goals:

1. SIEMs for Operational Technology Networks

Operational technology is uniquely susceptible to ransomware. Cybercriminals know manufacturers cannot bypass operational barriers, which makes ransom payments more likely. Incomplete operational security policies enable cybercriminals to distribute ransomware on operational networks easily. 

Manufacturers need to carefully bring operational systems together with existing IT infrastructure. These integrations are incredibly delicate processes. The ability to capture and analyze operational event logs in a security information and event management (SIEM) system is of critical importance.

2. Robust Protection for Legacy Systems

Many manufacturers use legacy systems that may be decades old, often simply because no viable alternatives exist. These systems used to enjoy “security through obscurity” – the idea that hackers wouldn’t go through the trouble of learning an arcane, decades-old programming language to build custom firmware that compromises some particular industrial device. 

However, cybercriminals have been learning how to do exactly that for years. If your digital transformation strategy relies on virtual machines to maintain legacy systems, that makes them just as easy to attack as any other network asset. They require the same degree of protection that any other network asset enjoys.

3. User and Entity Behavioral Analytics (UEBA) Technology

UEBA solutions like Exabeam enable manufacturers to establish flexible security policies for each individual user and device on their network – including IoT-enabled industrial machinery. Instead of applying a firm set of preprogrammed rules, UEBA platforms observe regular network behavior and create baseline profiles that represent normal activity. 

Whenever a user, device, or database starts to behave in a way that breaks its established norm, it is assigned a certain score. When that score accumulates beyond a certain threshold, an alarm is triggered, and a manual investigation begins. This allows security teams to prioritize their activities and prevent cyberattacks before it's too late.

4. Increased Scrutiny of Internal Risks

Internal data breaches are becoming an increasing concern for manufacturing leaders. Some studies show that nearly one-in-three security incidents originate with employees or other users with privileged access to company data. Whether by negligence or deliberate sabotage, internal threat actors have an important advantage – they do not need to bypass systems they already have access to. 

UEBA technology changes this. By collecting data on authenticated internal users and matching their behaviors to pre-defined profiles, it can pinpoint evidence of compromised accounts. Suspicious behaviors like mass-encrypting sensitive folders can immediately trigger investigations that may save the company from serious damage.

5. Intellectual Property Theft

National security is one of the reasons why the Federal government puts its contractors under such close watch. Government contractors may have valuable intellectual properties that cybercriminals can steal and market for resale to rival nation-states. Even competitors – domestic and otherwise – may resort to cyber espionage to get ahead. 

This is another area where comprehensive UEBA systems offer best-in-class protection. Additionally, it’s vital that manufacturers regularly adjust access privileges for sensitive properties and implement solid policies for communicating about these properties with customers and partners.


Protect Your Manufacturing Business with Castra

Castra is a managed detection and response (MDR) provider that gives manufacturers access to a scalable team of security analysts and SIEM experts. We can help you optimize your SIEM deployment and add Exabeam behavioral analytics to its capabilities. Rely on our experience to secure your manufacturing business and protect its most sensitive data from unauthorized users.


Contact us for more information on our MDR services for manufacturers!