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Outmaneuvering the Security Threats of Tomorrow (.PDF Download)

Oct. 20, 2017
Outmaneuvering the Security Threats of Tomorrow (.PDF Download)

Since 2015, U.S. manufacturers have become targets of an increasing wave of cyberattacks. The attackers—more sophisticated and better funded than ever before—seem to concentrate their efforts on mission-critical industrial environments that are often vital for economic stability, such as plants that create automobile and aviation parts. In these applications, time sensitivity, or “just-in-time manufacturing,” means the target is at a serious disadvantage when subjected to a cyber event, such as a malware infection or ransomware. One mishap can cause the whole production line to fall through.

The quick turnaround times inherent to this sector give most manufacturers no more than a day and a half to supply stock at any given time. This means any attack, from a small threat, such as an unauthorized login, to the entire takeover of a network or critical infrastructure, will leave a manufacturer unable to deliver parts needed by customers to create their end-products. Considering these companies already operate on paper-thin margins, such a scenario can be devastating. If a network is down or held captive, companies lose valuable production time, significant profit, and suffer hefty downtime costs.

Take the example of a transmission plant in North Carolina. Last summer, the company’s entire computer network was attacked when malware entered the control system via an email, distributing a virus. The attacker threatened to shut down the production line until a ransom was paid. In this case, the company was set to lose over a quarter of a million dollars for every hour that production was stopped. Luckily, the company identified the culprit before the event took place, but this example highlights the risks faced by every mission-critical environment.

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