Manufacturers Need to Be Concerned About CyberSecurity

Joe Weinlick
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High-profile data breaches at Target and Verizon targeted consumers as hackers tried to obtain personal information for tens of millions of people. A 2017 study from IBM shows that manufacturers should pay attention to cybersecurity issues just as much as B2C companies that have databases filled with customer information.

The IBM study points out that manufacturing is the second-highest sector that suffers from data breaches after health care entities. Hackers try to obtain your company's secrets or customer information, including bank accounts to redirect payments. Ransomware may hold your firm's computer system hostage until you make a payment to a cybercriminal. Business emails to and from your employees may face compromises as hackers could try to pose as someone with authority to try to get an extra payment from a customer.

Reasons to Pay Attention

Hackers have a lot of sophisticated tools to get the data they need. Once they have this information, your bottom line could take a major hit. Costs that come from data breaches include disruption in your production lines, paying for an investigation as to what happened, lost customers, downtime and product discounts to make up for any delays. In 2016 in the United States, the average cost per breach was $7.35 million. Making the situation worse, the FBI estimates that $400 billion of proprietary information, trade secrets and intellectual property leaves the United States every year due to cybersecurity issues.

Hackers have many ways to get into your system. Your automated machines are linked to the internet in some fashion to deliver information. Your employees use multiple entry points to access data, such as laptops, dedicated terminals, smartphones, tablets, servers and social media. Cloud computing and collaboration software, used among your company, suppliers and customers, could face data breaches if hackers exploit a weakness.

Emails are an easy target for cybercriminals. All it takes is one employee to open an email, click on a link in an email or download an attachment that contains malware for something to happen. The email may seem as if it's an official one from a company employee, but hackers disguise it as something malicious. In 2016, these types of hacks cost companies $346 million collectively, with losses totaling $1.6 billion from 2013 to May 2017.

Steps to Protect Your Company

Training your employees helps prevent data breaches because it takes just one wayward email to cause major problems. Teach everyone to recognize a phishing email, use secured networks, limit social media usage on work computers and protect their passwords. Limit people's access to sensitive data unless they absolutely must have the information to perform their duties.

Use a two-step verification process for access to emails. This means inputting a password, but also receiving a text message or other type of alert with a code to get into an email. Before sending wire transfers of money, use a secure phone connection or a secondary sign-off from personnel to eliminate any fraudulent activity. Encrypt data and back it up regularly in case a breach causes you to lose data.

Data breaches don't have to cost your company big bucks. Protect your systems as much as possible to make it very hard for hackers to get access to your vital information before something bad happens.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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