Severe Cyber Threats to The Booming Industry of Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry is booming, but cyber-attacks and data breaches pose severe threats to businesses of all sizes. Manufacturers are at a greater risk of security breaches because they have more valuable intellectual property and systems interconnected with their customers and suppliers. Attackers can use these weaknesses to access equipment and industrial facilities. It can lead to many problems, including data loss, disruption to operations and compromised physical safety.

Insider Threats

Manufacturing organizations are a common target of insider threats, as they often have proprietary information that malicious actors can leverage for financial gain or to damage their reputations. These threats can include espionage, fraud, IP theft and sabotage. Malicious insiders are employees or contractors with privileged access to sensitive data who use that access for financial, personal or malicious reasons. These threats are often perpetrated by disgruntled employees who want to harm or embarrass their employers.

They may also be pawns manipulated into malicious activities by external threat actors or scammers. It can happen through phishing emails, impersonating upper management or introducing malware. These threats are hard to detect, as they have legitimate access to company data and systems. Fortunately, cybersecurity resources for manufacturers can help identify and respond to these threats in a way that mitigates risk and reduces the impact on production. An approach that includes training, organizational alignment and technology is the best way to safeguard your business against these risks.

Supply Chain Attacks

Supply chain attacks leverage security vulnerabilities in the systems of a company’s suppliers or other business partners to gain access to networks and steal data. These are a significant concern for manufacturers since they rely on third parties to deliver their products. Typically, supply chain attacks start with the victim’s network and move laterally to less secure supply chain elements.  These attacks are common because of the many vulnerable endpoints in a supply chain network. They are also often more efficient than phishing attacks because cybercriminals can infect many targets at once without targeting them individually. Some recent supply chain attacks have involved software vendors pushing compromised updates to their customers, resulting in widespread malware infections. Solarwinds and Kaseya are two examples.

Equipment Sabotage

Equipment sabotage can be as simple as breaking machinery or as destructive as a virus. It can also take the form of working slowly or stealing goods, but security is only sometimes good at detecting it. As manufacturers move towards Industry 4.0 and the Factory of the Future, they must be careful of their cybersecurity. Manufacturing environments with intelligent machines are a common target for cyberattacks. In addition to traditional malware that can be stopped by network and endpoint protection, advanced attackers are likely to develop operational technology (OT)-specific attacks to sabotage critical systems. This will require a defense-in-depth strategy that includes multiple layers of protection to keep hackers from achieving their objectives, says Bill Malik, vice president of infrastructure strategies at Trend Micro. The sabotage of manufactured composite parts, in particular, can be a serious concern. Popular in aerospace and high-end automotive industries, these parts often offer higher mechanical properties at a lower weight than their conventional counterparts.


Ransomware is malware that encrypts files, making them inaccessible to users. It is a form of extortion that can disrupt business operations and lead to costly downtime. A growing number of manufacturers are using computer-aided design (CAD) software, which can be susceptible to this type of attack. It can result in the loss of data required for manufacturing to proceed, which could have severe ramifications for a company. Even if some of the encrypted data is released, downtime costs can escalate significantly as a company tries to recover from the attack. It could result in financial losses, productivity, and reputation damage. The manufacturing industry is increasingly exposed to cybersecurity risks as the world moves to digital technology and robust online systems. To protect themselves, manufacturers must prioritize medium- and long-term cybersecurity measures.

Network Attacks

The manufacturing industry is highly dependent on digitalization to produce goods, which can put it at risk for cyber attacks. Its multi-billion-dollar output relies on extensive technical data, CAD and design files, and software-driven machinery. But as technology advances and Industry 4.0 spreads throughout the sector, it also introduces new vulnerabilities for cyber-attackers to exploit. These vulnerabilities are particularly dangerous because manufacturers connect their operational technology (OT) systems through internal networks or the internet, which opens them up to cyberattackers’ access to sensitive information and physical process data.

Network attacks are cybersecurity threats involving an attacker trying to access your enterprise network without your security team knowing. These attacks can be active or passive, depending on the attacker’s objectives. Passive network attacks aim to get into your system stealthily and quietly without raising any alarms. They can stay in your network for weeks, months or even years, stealing data and launching other malicious activities. Another network attack involves pinging all of the computers on your network with spoofed packets to increase the traffic volume. These types of attacks are commonly called smurf attacks or ping-of-death.