Secure Manufacturing Infrastructure For Growth

Today’s manufacturing industry is a wonder of efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Embracing emerging technologies, increa­sed custo­mer-centricity, deepening focus on new markets, adopting new business models are some growth strategies followed by this industry. However the same technology that makes it possible for smaller manufacturers to thrive in our global economy also presents security challenges. On one hand, while the digitization of information makes it easier than ever for employees to share information with one another and outside experts. On the flip side, with every endpoint connected to the internet, there is always a risk of a cybercriminal stealing this intellectual property or other sensitive information.

Increasing ways of collaborating and sharing information are giving opportunities to criminals to steal it. Information is the new currency among thieves, and they earn through outright theft or by disabling critical systems. One of the main attack points for cybercriminals today is the endpoint, which can be compromised in a variety of ways. Malicious emails are always waiting for employees to click on them, and these days it is easier than ever to use publicly available information to create sophisticated false messages to trick users into disclosing their credentials. Malware can also find its way onto user machines via USB devices and even through visiting well-known websites that have been infected. Hackers can also gain access to endpoints by exploiting weaknesses in network defenses.

Smaller manufacturers may have assumed themselves immune from attacks on their SCADA systems, because of their proprietary nature. But recent incidents such as Stuxnet have revealed that there is no limit to the lengths cybercriminals will go. Malware like Stuxnet also shows that even physical machinery is no longer safe from threats. This vulnerability is likely to be further highlighted as technology continues to evolve and sophisticated IT components take a more active role in the manufacturing process.
Today’s smaller manufacturers should implement a multi-layered approach to security, with a focus on not only protecting their physical equipment, but also their information.In order to accomplish this, they need to combine effective policies and user precautions with robust security technology.

Educate the User
Educating the users about the threat landscape is one of the most effecting ways of protecting endpoints.Most users are aware that spam emails can contain malicious links, but many of them are unfamiliar with today’s innovative phishing techniques that involve more targeted and personalized messages. So it’s important to give employees regular reminders of endpoint safety techniques. One of the most important areas to emphasize is the potential dangers of social networking sites (including accepting requests from unknown people). It’s also important to establish policies concerning where sensitive information can be stored, and monitoring employees to ensure compliance.

The Simpler, The Better
Irrespective of the size or industry, most businesses are using multiple security solutions. Aside from creating unneeded complexity within an IT system, it can also create unnecessary costs. Smaller manufacturers are placing information in more places than ever before – desktops, servers, cloud and virtual, and mobile devices. And servers are especially important endpoints to protect, because not only are they vital to maintain the availability of both applications and information, but they are also where two-thirds of data breaches happen.
Simplifying the number of solutions wherever possible and deploying more comprehensive, complementary tools that provides overlapping protection is one of the most effective ways to secure resources.

Today’s security tools also go beyond traditional definition-based malware recognition, which is critical given the constant emergence of never-before-seen threats. Smaller manufacturers should guard against these through reputation-based security, which takes advantage of intelligence gathered from millions of other machines to maintain real-time protection.

The ones who are looking to upgrade or consolidate their endpoint security solutions, should consider whether on-site security software will best meet their needs, or whether a cloud-based solution would be a better option. The advantage of a managed service is that protection is always up to date, and security status information is typically available from any Internet connection. It is also available as a managed service, reducing the time needed to maintain protection and automatically handling issues that come up.

Manufacturing industry is undergoing a revolutionary change. Outdated systems are being replaced with integrated technologies that more efficiently coordinate activities. But at the same time, today’s businesses need to be aware that threats are evolving quickly as well. Endpoints are often at the front lines of the cyber security battle, and as information is being stored and accessed in more places than ever before, manufacturers need to make sure they deploy strong endpoint protection as an important part of an overall security plan.

As a trusted advisor and knowledge partner, the reseller community can lead the way in assisting manufacturing companies in managing their technology needs better. Partners  are instrumental in providing the right guidance  to business-owners about not only preventing loss of confidential information but also protecting them it from  digital disasters. The role of the channel bridges the customer’s need with the relevant solution to solve  real world problems.

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