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Business Risk Profile: Manufacturing

As a critical infrastructure sector, the manufacturing industry is a primary driver of economic development and growth, enabling everything from local utility services to global trade. The critical importance of manufactured goods in modern society means a successful attack against a major manufacturer could trigger a domino effect, leading to widespread economic disruption across supply chains.

As the industry undergoes rapid digitization, manufacturers must quickly adapt to evolving technology standards while continuing to effectively mitigate a dynamic threat landscape—a task that is complicated by several emerging developments:

Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0, the next phase of the manufacturing sector’s ongoing and radical digitization, has been regarded as a fourth industrial revolution, characterized by the rise of the smart factory. Management consulting firm McKinsey & Company identifies four disruptive trends driving Industry 4.0: big data, advanced analytics, human-to-machine interfaces, and digital-to-physical transfer. Along with other technological developments, these trends are driving the integration of operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT). While this integration will make production processes more efficient, it could also exacerbate the increasingly blurred distinction between physical and cyber threats. For example, a successful cyber attack against a fully digitized smart factory could bring production to a standstill, resulting in devastating financial and reputational damage.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

A key implication of Industry 4.0 is the extension of the Internet of Things (IoT) into physical  production processes, creating an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). As demonstrated by the Mirai botnet attacks of October 2016, IoT vulnerabilities can be exploited on a large scale to devastating effect. In order to avoid a similar fate, manufacturers must take appropriate measures to ensure endpoint security, but since many factories operate continuously, regular patching and security updates can hinder production, leading to reduced output and revenue. To complicate matters further, manufacturing equipment is often expected to operate over a timespan of 10 to 20 years. As such, manufacturers must actively maintain and upgrade the security capabilities of their IIoT production environments.

Digital Supply Networks (DSN)

Industry 4.0 is also expected to transform the traditionally linear supply chains into holistic, interconnected systems known as digital supply networks (DSNs). According to consulting firm Deloitte, DSNs are characterized by a “continuous flow of information,” facilitating agility, connectivity, optimization, transparency, and enhanced decision making across supplier and partner networks. Despite their numerous advantages, digitized supply chain networks also intensify certain risks, necessitating higher scrutiny of third-party relationships.

By adopting a unified and efficient approach to evaluating threats, vulnerabilities, and contingency factors, manufacturers can reap the strategic advantages of Industry 4.0 while mitigating associated risks. Business Risk Intelligence (BRI) is an invaluable resource for organizations looking to augment their security and risk mitigation capabilities with insights gleaned from the Deep & Dark Web (DDW).

To learn how manufacturers are leveraging BRI to address emerging threats, download our Business Risk Intelligence (BRI) for Manufacturing use cases.

About the author: Chris Camacho

Chris Camacho partners with Flashpoint's executive team to develop, communicate, and execute strategic initiatives. With over 15 years of cybersecurity leadership experience, he has led initiatives across Operational Strategy, Incident Response, Threat Management, and Security Operations to ensure cyber risk postures align with business goals. An entrepreneur, Mr. Camacho also serves as CEO for NinjaJobs, a career-matching community for elite cybersecurity talent. He has a BS in Decision Sciences & Management of Information Systems from George Mason University.