The Ultimate Guide to Data Security in the Manufacturing Industry

Data Security
5 min read
James Mignacca
July 27, 2022
James Mignacca
July 27, 2022
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There has long been a belief in the manufacturing industry that companies in the sector were relatively safe from cyber threats, with a misconception that cyber attackers prefer to target businesses in the financial services and healthcare industry instead.

Yet, according to the latest IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2022 report, the manufacturing industry is now the most frequently hacked industry. The sector was targeted in 23.2 percent of the attacks that X-Force remediated.

Ransomware was the top attack type, accounting for 23 percent of attacks on manufacturing organizations and underscoring the heavy focus ransomware actors placed on manufacturing. Server access attacks came in second place at 12 percent, while BEC and data theft tied for third place at 10 percent each.

Vulnerability exploitation was the top infection vector at manufacturing organizations in 2021, at 47 percent, followed closely by phishing at 40 percent. The report claims that the volume of these attacks probably drove the overall initial infection vector trends X-Force observed in 2021.

Removable media (7 percent), stolen credentials (3 percent) and brute force (3 percent) also accounted for a small percentage of attacks.

With the above statistics in mind, there’s no doubt that it’s more important than ever before that organizations working in the manufacturing industry implement robust data protection strategies to better secure their data and meet regulatory compliance requirements.

To help get your business started, we’ve created this guide as an overview of everything you’ll need to know to improve data security in the manufacturing industry.

Ensure your business is compliant with relevant manufacturing data regulations

With the emergence of data privacy laws that regulate how organizations use personal data and share it with third parties, businesses in the manufacturing sector must prioritize how they collect, store and use personally identifiable information (PII).

Manufacturing businesses must ensure that they comply with the regulations that are relevant to them within the region or countries that they offer goods and services or collect consumer data.

The data privacy regulations that your business must comply with will depend on your region of operation, but some of the most common laws include:

  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)
  • Colorado Privacy Act (CPA)
  • Virginia Consumer Protection Act (VCDPA)
  • Utah Consumer Privacy Act (UCPA)
  • Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • And the Brazilian Data protection Law (LGPD), also known as Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados

To learn more about any of these data privacy laws please visit our recent blog: What are the Consequences of Non-compliance With Data Privacy Laws.

Implement Manufacturing security best practices into your business

Unlike other industries, the manufacturing sector hasn’t typically held vast amounts of consumer data. As a result, manufacturing executives often haven’t put data security and compliance top of mind.

Yet, with the manufacturing industry now being named as the most frequently hacked sector, that is changing rapidly. Contrary to popular belief, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and product makers hold vast amounts of sensitive data, including intellectual property and financial information. Your business is also exposed to additional risk through your extended supply chain.

To mitigate the risk of cyber attacks and ensure customer and company information is kept secure, manufacturing businesses should look at bolstering their data security strategy with a few key best practices:

Gain visibility into where your sensitive data lives

Understanding what sensitive data your organization has, where it lives and who has access to it gives your business visibility of its internal and external surface attack risk and to ensure that your business processes are complying with the relevant data privacy requirements.

Data discovery software scans your organization’s entire environment, finding and identifying where both structured and unstructured data resided across your business. This gives you real-time insight into where your data lives, so you can better ensure that data is being protected and that it complies with data privacy laws.

Train your employees to recognize cybersecurity threats

When it comes to cybersecurity vulnerability, a company’s employees pose the biggest weakness. Cybercriminals know that it’s easier to target employees through attacks like phishing than to find a way through a company’s infrastructure. That's why manufacturing businesses must train their employees to recognize the signs of cyber attacks so they can avoid falling for them.

Use data classification to enhance your compliance efforts

Data classification is the process of identifying and tagging data into categories based on relevant information, such as file type, content or what data privacy laws the data must comply with. By implementing this process into your data security strategy, your business will improve its visibility into where sensitive data lives across the network making it easier ensure that the data is both secure and compliant.

Treat data security like a business issue, not an “IT problem”

As we mentioned previously, in the past data security hasn’t been a priority for the large majority of manufacturing executives. These businesses typically brushed off data security as an IT issue, making it an afterthought to the actual business.

But data security is about more than updating your passwords every few weeks, it’s a highly-strategic and comprehensive process that should be an essential aspect of all facets of the business. Data security should be seen as a vital process that mitigates costly system outages and downtime in the event you do experience a breach or data leak.

Get a head start on your data protection strategy with a free vulnerability assessment from Cavelo to uncover your organization’s sensitive data and vulnerabilities. See what you’re missing and request a demo today.

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