One in three businesses say cyber security has dropped as a priority

Posted on 29 Feb 2024 by The Manufacturer

Cyber crime is estimated to cost the UK economy £27bn per annum, with businesses bearing a total estimated loss of £21bn per year, according to recent data.

Despite this, one in three businesses has reportedly dropped cyber security as a high priority, and only 42% of medium sized businesses have a firm cyber security strategy in place.

As the manufacturing industry continues to be one of the top targets of cyber crime, Neil Matthews, Managing Director of leading spring and presswork manufacturer MSP, warned that deprioritising cyber security protocols leaves manufacturers vulnerable in this fast-paced era of digitalisation.

Neil said: ”We continue to see more cyber attacks on manufacturing than any other industry in the UK as cyber criminals exploit vulnerable systems and dated processes. As the industry moves towards smarter manufacturing, integrating artificial intelligence and increasing digitalisation will introduce new vulnerabilities and complexities.”

“To effectively mitigate these cyber threats, manufacturers must remain proactive in fortifying their systems and have a robust understanding of the cyber landscape.”

As one of the main targets of cyber crime, the manufacturing industry represented 20% of all cyber extortion attacks in 2023 – a 42% increase since 2022.

Neil warned that this demonstrates a concerning flaw in many manufacturers’ current cyber security processes, making the sector as a whole more vulnerable and prone to cyber attacks.

He said: “Vulnerabilities such as single-layered protection, unrestricted admin rights, lack of password policies and delays to important software security updates pose a huge risk, leading not only to financial costs but also theft of intellectual property or damage to operational systems.

“Ultimately, this can have a huge negative impact on a business’s reputation and client and supplier relations.”

To address this, Neil advised that manufacturers should look to embrace more robust cyber security measures, which can account for the rising challenges of smarter manufacturing processes.

He advised: “Smarter manufacturing can bring a host of benefits, from heightened analytics and learning to advanced production methods and improved efficiency and productivity.

“However, implementing digitalisation efforts will require resilience and dedicated cyber security protocols to ensure systems and vital data are safeguarded.”

For an effective cyber security strategy, manufacturers first need to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment of the landscape, using these insights to best position their strategy against identified risks.

Neil added: “The insights gathered should become foundational to your strategy, and from there you can adjust to ensure each system and technology aligns with cyber security best practices – including updated software, risk assessments and strong risk management practices.”

Neil stressed the importance of keeping cyber security a top priority, as smart manufacturing becomes integral to future success and adjusts to net zero targets.

He said: “In this digitised landscape, businesses, particularly in the manufacturing sector, must retain cyber security as an integral part of all company strategies and plans. Doing so will help minimise risks, identify challenges ahead, and protect vital data and learnings so that businesses can effectively progress towards a smarter future.”

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