Cyber threat to manufacturers on the rise – report

Close to half of UK manufacturers have been victims of a cyber attack in the last 12 months according to a new report from Make UK and Blackberry.

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Cyber Security: UK manufacturing found that 42 per cent had experienced a direct cyber threat in the previous year, with around one in four (26 per cent) sustaining significant financial losses between £50,000-£250,000. The remaining 74 per cent said that good cyber security processes were responsible for preventing any business impact when attacks took place.

Two-thirds of respondents to the survey said the importance of cyber security had increased in the last year. Despite this, over half (54 per cent) failed to adopt any additional cyber security measures in the previous 12 months, with the cost of the initial outlay the biggest challenge for companies (40 per cent), followed closely by the cost of maintaining systems (35 per cent).

“Digitisation is revolutionising modern manufacturing and becoming increasingly important to drive competitiveness and innovation,” said Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK.

“While cost remains the main barrier to companies installing cyber protection, the need to increase the use of the latest technology makes mounting a defence against cyber threats essential. No business can afford to ignore this issue and while the increased awareness across the sector is encouraging, there is still much to be done.

“Every business is vulnerable, and every business needs to take the necessary steps to protect themselves properly.”

According to the report, Russia and China are seen as the biggest threats for cyber security, with three-quarters of respondents identifying the two nations as concerns. Internally, the top three vulnerabilities were found to be maintaining legacy IT (45 per cent), a lack of cyber skills within the company (38 per cent) and providing access to third parties for monitoring and maintenance (33 per cent).

Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of manufacturers now have a formal cyber security procedure in place in the event of an incident, up 11 per cent on last year’s figures. The same number have assigned a senior manager responsibility for cyber security, with more than half (58 per cent) elevating this responsibility to board level.  

“Clearly, the UK manufacturing industry is acutely aware of the threat that cybercrime presents,” said Keiron Holyome, VP UKI, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa at BlackBerry.“With attacks increasingly targeting operational infrastructures at the heart of major economies, the bigger issue is the majority of manufacturers that may not be aware that they have already been compromised.

“In our experience, it is possible – indeed, likely – that malware is present in legacy infrastructure, just waiting for the right time to strike. Today’s sophisticated threats are not deterred by outdated antivirus and firewall protection; it’s time for industry management to bring in the big guns of preventative cybersecurity to protect against all vulnerabilities, from accidental insider breaches through to the very real threat of nation state attacks.”