When you think of data security, manufacturing plants likely aren’t your first thought. Businesses in the manufacturing industry don’t manage massive amounts of data, private or otherwise, so they often consider themselves to be less of a target to hackers and other cyber threats. This line of thinking is a mistake—one that can lead to serious consequences for manufacturers. With the digital age comes the rise of online data and the Industrial Internet of Things. Like any other business organization, manufacturers must take steps to protect their processes and information. Learn how to protect your business with this overview of the importance of data security for your manufacturing plant.
Cyber Threats in the Manufacturing Industry
While it’s true that manufacturing plants don’t store and manage consumer data as much as other businesses do, the threat of cyber-attacks still exists. Hackers might target manufacturing plants to steal trade secrets, achieve remote control, or even shut down operations. Protecting intellectual property is a major goal of cybersecurity in the manufacturing industry. Unfortunately, stealing this information has become easier than ever. For example, equipment that uses smart technology will store precise directions, such as ingredient ratios. This means that crucial information is located out on the factory floor rather than in a secure data network. This is why manufacturers must take a thorough and integrated approach to cybersecurity. Even without large files of consumer data, they still have plenty of information that could fall into the wrong hands.
The Internet of Things in Manufacturing Plants
Much of this valuable information lies within the Industrial Internet of Things. The digital transformation of the industry means that many manufacturing plants rely on a network of sensors, equipment, and other devices to constantly collect and analyze data from their production processes. Manufacturers then use this data to improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Systems that use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other remarkable innovations can help businesses consistently improve their overall productivity. However, the collected data creates a huge target for competitors and hackers, thus creating a need for better data security.
Cyber Threats and Customers
In addition to the risks mentioned above, manufacturing plants are also susceptible to security breaches that target consumer data. Like any business, manufacturers obtain and manage billing information during transactions. Without a strong cybersecurity plan, this information and the clients who gave it are at risk. Furthermore, the cost of a security breach will trickle down into your product pricing. A cyber-attack can cause you to lose products, reduce productivity, and even lose control of the market to competitors. To make up for the loss, you will likely have to increase prices to maintain profits. This means your customers are paying for the flaws in your security system.
Implementing Better Data Security for Your Company
Now that you understand more about the importance of data security for your manufacturing plant, how can you ensure these threats never become a reality? As with any other business issue, manufacturers should gather information, identify key problem areas, and work with experts to create a comprehensive security plan. Of course, your data security solution will be unique to your plant. That said, there are a few general steps you can take to achieve the best results possible:
Identifying Top Security Risks
The first step to building or improving your data security system should be identifying areas with the highest risk. With so much data stored online, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. Keep in mind that cybersecurity is an ever-evolving process. Even strong defenses must be maintained and updated regularly. Start the process by obtaining an objective view of your plant and the data it holds. You can work with third-party experts to run a security assessment and identify your best starting points. As you gather information, ask yourself a few simple questions. What does your current information security look like? Who has access to your data? These questions and the insight you gain from them will help you establish clear goals. This makes it easier to take your first steps and continue improving from there.
Work With the Experts
Many manufacturing plants lack both the time and the expertise to operate a thorough security system. Fortunately, you can work with expert third-party sources to optimize your system. Take advantage of a quality cloud-based system like Microsoft Azure to protect your data, processes, and more. Azure offers tried and tested systems that offer the protection you need. Furthermore, management services like Atmosera can optimize Azure to fit your plant’s specific needs. As a leading expert in the field, Atmosera helps you manage your Azure data protection services, giving you more time and resources to dedicate to the rest of your business.
Offense Is a Good Defense
As you build your data security systems, try to think outside the box. Look at your manufacturing plant from an outsider’s perspective. What will a potential hacker be looking for? What weaknesses can they find and exploit? Run penetration tests to identify flaws in your system. Consistent network and software updates will also help you keep your system up-to-date and running smoothly. Remember that cybersecurity is always changing. If you let your system fall behind, you create an opening for attacks and security breaches.
Prioritize the Personal Touch
Of course, technology can only go so far. A successful data security system relies on trained and dedicated personnel. A third-party Azure management service like Atmosera can help with 24/7/365 monitoring and human experts who can help you optimize your system. However, your own staff can also do their part. Educate all employees in cybersecurity and common attack methods. Many accidents occur due to personnel errors rather than flaws in technology. When your staff can successfully identify suspicious activity and avoid mistakes, your entire security system becomes even safer.
Prioritizing data security means prioritizing your productivity, reputation, and overall success. Atmosera will help you optimize your data storage and security, allowing you and your staff to focus on what you do best.