In 2023, the Manufacturing industry was the top industry affected by ransomware. And, since 2018, ransomware has cost manufacturers $46bn. These are staggering amounts, but how can you tackle security concerns in your company? And what can you do to make your security industrial strength?

In today’s blog, I want to share past security breaches and the lessons we can learn from them. I will also share how to identify common cybersecurity pitfalls in manufacturing. These will be in areas of high concern such as the cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Operational Technology (OT). As well as how to install effective cybersecurity solutions.

Let’s start though with some background.

Understanding cybersecurity in manufacturing

Why is the manufacturing industry at risk? Recently, manufacturing has become a prime target for ransomware attacks. This trend is a result of the sector’s increasing vulnerabilities as it becomes more digital. Manufacturing plays a vital role in keeping global supply chains running. This makes it attractive to threat actors who exploit an industry that can’t afford to stop working.

Manufacturers often have a low tolerance for downtime. The need to keep producing without interruption makes them more at risk for ransomware attacks. Attackers bet on the widespread impact that stopping production can have. This pressures the affected companies to pay up to start production again quickly.


Ransomware: this is often a type of software that is designed to lock people out of a system/computer until the money is given to the hackers. Upon payment the hackers let the victims have access again.  Most surveys show that ransomware accounts for around 20%- 25% of all cybercrimes.

Another reason is the high number of unpatched security weaknesses in manufacturing settings. Many attacks happen because companies haven’t fixed these issues. Unlike banking or healthcare, manufacturing doesn’t face strict cybersecurity rules. This leads to fewer investments in protecting against cyber threats.

But what are the risks associated with the most common cybersecurity concerns?

Identifying common cybersecurity pitfalls in manufacturing

Emerging technologies offer both advantages and challenges. Let’s take AI as an example. While AI helps make smart, data-based decisions, new tech like generative AI is still evolving. This means there might be issues as people learn how to use it properly. In manufacturing, especially, there are three main security concerns to be aware of. Let’s look at these problems and suggest ways to make things safer.

Operational technology and cybersecurity

Operational technology (OT) can make things run smoother and faster, but it also brings big cybersecurity risks as it gets more common.

Common mistakes with cybersecurity in OT

A big mistake in manufacturing is not seeing OT as a possible way for hackers to get in. Every machine connected to a network could let cyber threats in. So, protecting these machines is very important. Cybercrimes make the critical systems we rely on risky. This could cause big problems, like stopping important services and creating safety issues.

This risk comes from OT systems being connected to IT systems and the internet, making them targets for attacks like ransomware.

How to lower these risks

  1. Segment your networks: you need to segregate your OT networks from your IT networks and the Internet. This limits the pathways attackers can use to access sensitive systems. Implement demilitarized zones (DMZs) to safely transfer data between OT and IT environments.
  2. Enforce access controls: ensure only authorized employees can access your OT systems. Start by implementing strict access control policies. Use multi-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security. This will reduce the risk of unauthorized access.
  3. Keep systems up to date: Update and patch your OT software and firmware. This step is crucial in protecting against known vulnerabilities. Although challenging, maintaining current versions is vital for securing your operations.
  4. Firewalls and intrusion detection: Using firewalls will help filter unauthorized traffic. An intrusion detection system will help you check for suspicious activities. This can offer early warnings of potential threats.
  5. Train your team: Educate your employees on cybersecurity best practices. Awareness of potential phishing attempts and social engineering tactics can significantly reduce risk.
  6. Prepare for incidents: Having a tailored incident response plan for your OT environment is critical. This plan should detail the steps to contain, eradicate, and recover from cyber incidents. This will help to cut operational disruptions.
  7. Backup and recovery procedures: Regular backups of critical OT data and configurations are a must. Equally, ensure you have a tested recovery plan in place to restore systems after a cyberattack quickly.
  8. Secure endpoints: Protect OT endpoints with compatible antivirus and security solutions. Endpoint protection is a key line of defense against malware and other cyber threats.

Production stop costs $85 million

Background: Brunswick Corporation is a leading marine industry company. They reported a cyberattack costing up to $85 million. This billion-dollar firm faced significant system and facility impacts.

Type of attack: While not confirmed as ransomware, the attack forced operational halts in several locations. This required expert and law enforcement intervention.

The result: The CEO, Dave Foulkes, announced substantial second-quarter financial losses. Along with a nine-day recovery period. This affected the company’s propulsion and engine parts segment production.

Lessons you can learn: This incident highlights the need for robust cybersecurity measures. It shows the importance of rapid response plans. Planning could have helped mitigate financial losses and disruptions.

AI and cybersecurity in manufacturing

Using AI Software Development Services can benefit your company. But, as AI gets better, the way it’s used can cause new problems. It’s important to find the right balance between the good things AI can do and knowing where it can cause issues. AI helps by quickly checking data for anything odd, letting you fix problems fast.

But, there’s also another big issue to think about.

The Danger of AI-Powered Ransomware

Hackers can use AI to target your business too. In industries like manufacturing, attacks made with AI are especially risky. They can include phishing scams, tampering with online platforms, and creating fake videos or pictures. These attacks are designed to be very convincing. It could trick workers into giving away private company info, damaging your brand’s image. AI can copy real messages because it can analyze a lot of data, making these threats tough to spot. AI learns from what works and what doesn’t, it gets better at avoiding security.

How a whaling email cost FACC $61million

Background: FACC, an Austrian manufacturer of airplane components, lost nearly $61 million due to a “fake president” scam. The aerospace industry, already familiar with cyberattacks, was stunned by this sophisticated con.

Type of attack: The scam, known as a whaling attack, involved a cybercriminal impersonating the company’s CEO via email. They requested a $56 million transfer for a fake acquisition project.

The result: The attack led to the firing of FACC’s CEO and CFO, along with other employees. Legal attempts to recover damages from the executives were ultimately unsuccessful.

Lessons you can learn: This case shows the importance of cybersecurity awareness at all levels. Train employees to recognize phishing scams. Even if they come from high-ranking executives. Cybersecurity is not solely an IT issue; it requires human thinking as well.

How to fight back against AI ransomware

  1. Look for hyper-personalization: AI scams might include personalized information beyond what’s typical. This makes the scam seem more legitimate. Be cautious of messages that seem unusually tailored to your personal details or behaviors.
  2. Analyze the complexity and authenticity of content: AI can generate complex content. Even realistic images or convincing high-level text. These might not show the usual signs of a scam, like poor grammar or spelling. Pay attention to the context and ask yourself if the communication makes sense from the sender.
  3. Check for phishing techniques: scams may craft emails that mimic the style and tone of companies you know. Look for subtle inconsistencies or anomalies in email addresses, links, and the content itself.
  4. Be wary of unusual requests or attachments: regardless of how legitimate an email may appear, be cautious of requests. This is important in areas of sensitive information. A usual scam is sending attachments, especially if they need urgent action.
  5. Use advanced security solutions: AI can help you spot scams as well. Tools can better detect and alert you about phishing attempts. They’re designed to recognize and adapt to evolving threats.
  6. Continuous learning and training: Since AI scams evolve, continuous training is crucial. Hold regular training sessions that include updates on AI scam techniques. As well as showing examples of AI-driven phishing attempts to test awareness.

If you want to know more about our cybersecurity software solutions, read the story about how we scaled TitanHQ’s internal team. We helped their team deliver a software solution that identifies over 100,000 malware sites every day.

Cloud security in manufacturing

Cloud Migration Services have changed the way companies work, making it easier to handle data and save money. But, as companies like Nissan have found out, moving to the cloud doesn’t mean you can forget about cybersecurity threats.

Common Cloud Security Mistakes

A big mistake manufacturers make is thinking that once they move their data to the cloud, they don’t have to worry about cybersecurity. It’s now the responsibility of your cloud provider. This is wrong and can make the cloud a big target for cybercriminals. Mistakes like falling for phishing scams and using weak passwords are part of cloud training.

How to improve your cloud security

To fight these risks, manufacturers need to be more active in protecting their data in the cloud. Here are some ways to do this.

  1. Check and sort your data: take time to look over, sort, and store your cloud data properly. Knowing what kind of data you have in the cloud and how sensitive it is, is the first step to keeping it safe.
  2. Look closer at your data: you need to understand how your data in the cloud fits together. Details like how different pieces of data are connected and why they’re important to your business. This helps find weak spots and decide where to focus your security efforts.
  3. Make and follow security rules: it’s very important to have clear rules for how to keep data in the cloud safe. These rules should cover how, where, and how long to store data, considering how sensitive the information is and what laws you need to follow. Making sure you follow these rules is key to keeping your data secure.
  4. Watch your data: using tools that keep an eye on your cloud data all the time can help spot and deal with threats right away. You need to be able to quickly see when something’s not right and take steps to fix it.

Impact of data breaches on trust and compliance

Background: Nissan North America disclosed a breach affecting 18,000 customers’ data. This included names, birth dates, and NMAC numbers, due to a third-party vendor’s lapse.

Breach Details: The incident involved the exposure of data in a cloud repository during testing. It did not compromise Social Security or credit card information.

Outcome: The delayed announcement, nearly six months after discovery, mirrors problematic corporate practices. This delay highlighted concerns over Nissan’s data handling. The delay affected customer trust and brand perception.

Lessons you can learn: It’s important to react quickly to data breaches and notify your customers. A swift response can help to keep your customer’s trust if you are honest and take steps to mitigate the breach.

The benefits of an external software partner

A software partner offers practical advantages for manufacturers, especially for security. A partnership means you get help with phishing defenses and password policies for your staff. Cloud configurations are correctly implemented to help stop unauthorized access. Moreover, an experienced partner helps keep software up-to-date. This closes vulnerabilities that hackers might exploit.

The benefit of all this? You gain peace of mind, knowing that an expert team working with your internal team to protect your business. This not only boosts security but also allows you to focus more on your core manufacturing processes.


To wrap up, industrial-strength cybersecurity is not just about the latest tech solutions. It’s about ensuring your team is well-trained to recognize and respond to threats. As we’ve explored, threat actors can exploit various entry points. This might include cloud data vulnerabilities and AI-based ransomware.

By educating your staff on the common pitfalls and integrating robust security measures. As well as working with an external software partner you can mitigate these risks. Remember, cybersecurity is a continuous process of learning, adapting, and strengthening defenses to protect your manufacturing operations.

Rate this post