New technology has been a boon for the manufacturing industry. Connected technologies mean manufacturing firms can boost productivity, efficiency, and maximize their bottom lines. But as network environments expand, so does the attack surface for cybercriminals.
And the 2021 X-Force Threat Index shows that every advancement brings with it a potential risk. The report named the manufacturing industry as the top target for cyberattacks worldwide. The industry had not held this unfortunate designation since 2016 and should put the industry on alert.
The largest cyber threats facing manufacturers
According to the X-Force Threat Index, ransomware hit manufacturers hard. This type alone accounted for 23% of attacks. Cybercriminals introduced ransomware to networks through a variety of techniques, but the most common were vulnerability exploitations and phishing.
What type of vulnerabilities might allow bad actors to inject a network with ransomware? With the adoption of operational technology (OT), internet of things (IoT) devices, and cloud-based applications, security teams have lost much of the visibility needed to quickly detect and respond to network threats. Their existing security tools only monitor specific sections of the network or the tools monitoring one area don’t speak easily to the other tools, leaving gaps in detection. And this means organizations are vulnerable to a variety of exposure points. Devices might be running on expired operating systems, east/west traffic may be missed entirely, or applications may be misconfigured. These vulnerabilities are then exploited by threat actors.
While most workforces are generally aware of phishing, the reality is many still fall prey to this tactic. CISCO’s 2021 Cybersecurity Threat Trends Report suggests that at least one person clicked a phishing link in around 86% of organizations. The data also suggests that phishing accounts for around 90% of data breaches. Threat actors have used this social engineering technique to their advantage by elevating their approach to phishing attacks.
Company employees receive deceptive emails that appear to be from business partners, colleagues, and senior leadership. They receive text messages and phone calls expressing urgency around things that appear to be true from people that appear to be real. Of course, there are some telling signs and employee education can help avoid these tactics from working. But as shown by X-Force and CISCO’s findings, phishing is still a very effective way to gain access to a company’s network.
Cybersecurity solutions for manufacturers
There is good news, though. Manufacturers can keep their data safe by investing in the right technologies. Network detection and response (NDR) solutions that leverage network flow data offer security teams complete network visibility. When you have an easy way to visualize all network conversations—including traffic from cloud, VM, and hybrid environments—you can more easily capture a picture of normal network behavior.
Plixer’s NDR solution, in particular, is also able to provide device discovery and risk scoring to ensure any vulnerable devices—including OT and IoT devices—can easily be identified. Our machine learning engine also provides contextualized alerts to help boost analyst efficiency and efficacy when investigating and responding to threats.
To learn more about the state of cyber threats that manufacturers must contend with and how an NDR can help, view our recent manufacturing case study.