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Reducing the risk of cyber attacks on production and processing plants


The production and manufacturing industry is currently going through a tremendous shift. We are seeing rapid advancements in technology, which is proving to be of great benefit to the manufacturing processes while also introducing an added element of risk. While the evolution of technology may be bringing significant efficiency improvements to the production line, it also sees an increased vulnerability from cyber attacks. With the appropriate technology and safety measures, you can reduce the likelihood of a successful cyber attack whilst also helping to safeguard your production.

Potential cyber attack risks and solutions


The rise in successful cyber attacks is a part of an ongoing challenge faced by industries and sectors across the world. Australia, in particular, is increasingly becoming a target for cyber criminals. Between July 2021 and June 2022, Australia had an 81% increase in cyber security incidents. The ‘State of Ransomware in Manufacturing and Production 2022’ report revealed that 61% of respondents suffered an increase in the frequency of cyber attacks, while 66% reported an increase in the complexity of these attacks.

The first step to mitigating cyber attacks is familiarising yourself with the potential types of attacks and how they could impact your production.


Supply chain attacks


Cyber-intrusions are one of the most significant cyber threats in the manufacturing and production industry as they can cause major disruption to the supply chain. Any type of supply chain disruption can lead to huge complications such as shortages of key goods, significant delays, and negative economic impacts.

If a malicious operator gains access to the network that hosts the facility’s system controls, they have the power to not only disrupt the whole network, but also gain control of machinery which can cause havoc in production while also significantly impacting the safety of workers. During a cyber-intrusion, a hacker has the power to halt or overspeed machines, and disable safety systems that are designed to intervene in these situations.

While these sorts of activities may be designed to disrupt workflow, it can also cause physical damage to the equipment and pose a risk to workers on site.

How to protect your supply chain


One of the first steps to protecting your supply chain involves undergoing proper vendor assessments. Before partnering with a vendor or installing any third-party software, it is essential to check their security credentials.

Having security tools in place can alert you when an attack is taking place, as well as attempt to detect and block large amounts of data that might be leaving the network.

Octoplant is a vendor-independent software that offers device management and backups in one single solution. Octoplant’s security architecture proactively assesses for vulnerability and changes in real-time.


Extortion from ransomware


As manufacturing becomes more automated, the need to secure networks and devices from malware increases. Ransomware is a form of malware that involves disabling systems or encrypting data until the affected party pays a ransom. The average downtime associated with ransomware is approximately twenty-one days.

Cybercriminals are more likely to conduct ransomware attacks on industries they deem to be profitable in respect to protected or highly sensitive information. Systems will be kept down or inaccessible until the affected organisation pays the ransom. Unfortunately, paying the random fee does not guarantee the data will be restored. Only 7% of manufacturing and production companies in the last year got all their data back after paying the ransom.


How to prevent ransomware


Strong security measures are essential to help deter cyber criminals. Unfortunately, as cyber attacks are becoming more advanced, malicious actors are identifying new ways to bypass security measures.

The best way to prevent the impact of ransomware is to ensure you have appropriate security measures in place, coupled with powerful backup systems. Octoplant actively safeguards assets and has the capability to provide instant recovery for all necessary programs, data, and machine settings which can be restored at any time. Having this level of backup gives you the best chance to continue production and recover quickly from a ransomware attack.

Intellectual property theft


Manufacturing facilities hold a lot of intellectual property information about products including research and development details, design plans, processes, and market data. IP theft is appealing to cybercriminals as they can sell IP data for significant amounts of money or use it for product replication.


How to keep your intellectual property safe


The key to keeping your intellectual property safe is ensuring that you have methods in place to keep your most valuable data secure. It is important that your staff have had security training, are familiar with security policies and procedures and, in some cases, have signed a non-disclosure statement.


Phishing attacks


Phishing attacks involve luring someone from within the company to give up sensitive information such as passwords or account details via spoofed email or web portals. These attacks will often look like they are coming from a genuine source such as an email from a co-worker or a manager. Once the cyber attackers have these credentials, they can gain access to the network and all connected devices.

Phishing is the most common method used to steal sensitive data such as customer details and product designs. These attacks can create malware infections that can cause damage to computer systems across the network as well as production machinery.


How to prevent phishing attacks


It’s tricky to prevent phishing attacks because there is a lot of room for human error. It is highly advisable that your staff is given regular cyber security training so they know what a phishing scam looks like and how to act in response to an attempt.

Mitigating cyber attack risks in manufacturing


There has been a huge rise in data breaches across multiple industries in Australia, the amount surging by 1550% in October 2022 to November 2022 alone. These figures bring great concern to the manufacturing industry.

It’s no secret the manufacturing industry is rife with competition, and with increasing cybersecurity risks resulting from an industry that is becoming more digitised, it is vital to have a strong cybersecurity strategy in place.

The octoplant platform provides a holistic overview about your Operational Technology network and its most critical assets by reporting on insecure protocols and misconfigurations. The platform delivers comprehensive OT visibility alongside a centralised, fully automated OT asset inventory that includes the hardware, firmware, model, rack slot, IP, vendor, and related details for all assets.

Better protection is provided to critical assets through enhanced real time vulnerability alerts and risk assessments, giving the production unit more opportunity to respond with ample time. Expanded data recovery also works to reveal, integrate and backup critical assets that are not necessarily included in your disaster recovery plan.

If a vulnerability is detected, octoplant reports on these anomalies and provides guidance on how to resolve them.

At iOpen we recognise the importance of proactive cybersecurity solutions. If you would like to know more about octoplant and protecting your production environment, please get in touch by filling out our contact form.

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