September 30, 2020

Cybercrime Vulnerabilities in Manufacturing

By Benjamin Cook, Senior, Assurance Services

Cybercrime Vulnerabilities in Manufacturing Industrial Products

Given today’s advanced levels of technology, cybersecurity is an even more important aspect of our day-to-day activities. For example, recently there was an attempted cybercrime at Tesla, when an employee was offered $1 million to infect the Tesla systems with malware. If successful, the malware would have extracted data from the company’s network and, in turn, the conspirators would have demanded a ransom for the information. Yes, Tesla is larger than many Northeast Ohio manufacturers, but the same threats that exist for Tesla as relate to cybersecurity exist for small to midsize companies as well. We are going to look at three key areas that we believe could be vulnerable to cybercrime attacks.

1. Outdated Hardware and Software

Most manufacturers can agree that hardware and software are often the last priorities when considering everything else that goes into making a business profitable and efficient. Yet, updating hardware and software might be one of the most important first steps in preventing potential cybercrimes against your company. The components that comprise your IT systems are continuously updated to patch holes in security. If you are several versions behind in updates, or if you have not upgraded the hardware that holds some of your most sensitive client and company information, you are inviting potential problems. The first step toward ensuring your technological safety is to check for the latest versions of your hardware and software to determine whether a potential update is available. Some updates might require a small cash outlay for your company, but it will prevent potentially much larger cash outflows to contain potential security problems.

2. Supply Chain

Another area vulnerable to potential threats is your supply chain. Every day you receive emails, promotions and invoices from suppliers and potential suppliers. The number of times you or others on your team may quickly respond, click the link, or pay the invoice without taking some simple but essential due diligence steps first may surprise you. Potential crimes can occur when cybercriminals manipulate these emails and communications in order to trick you and your employees. The smallest of changes – for example, switching a letter here or a character there — will be enough to slip a malicious link past the recipient and provide an entrance into the heart of your IT systems. This can be combated with IT security training and a culture of vigilance with regard to email and internet use.

3. Surprising Access Points

Another vulnerability to be mindful of can occur in ways that you never imagined possible. ”Smart” appliances such as A/C units and refrigerators, for example, provide access points to your network that can create problems small and large. Any of these common objects that need to be connected to your wireless internet pose potential security threats that give hackers the ability to see and control everything taking place on that particular network. As discussed above, ensuring that hardware and software are updated is one way to protect yourself against this type of attack. Ensuring you are prepared for all possibilities is essential to securing your data.

These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cybersecurity for manufacturers. Potential attacks do not just happen to the Teslas of the world; they can happen to any company that has sensitive information. Fortunately, at Marcum we have a comprehensive practice dedicated to helping companies assure the security of their information technology systems. Marcum Technology can help you plan for and respond to the latest cybersecurity and digital threats. For any questions about some of the topics mentioned in this article or other cybersecurity concerns, email Benjamin Cook. When it comes to issues that could cause major problems for you and your business, it is never too late to Ask Marcum.

Marcum’s Manufacturing & Distribution advisors will continue to update you on the latest tools to help your manufacturing business grow. Consult your Marcum advisor for assistance.