PODCAST: How manufacturers can protect themselves from hackers

Written on Mar 19, 2020

It’s not a matter of if, but when. That’s what one expert said manufacturers should expect when anticipating a cyberattack on their business. 

“Most companies don't think about when it could happen,” said Tom Skoog, Blue & Co. principal and IT risk and advisory practice leader. “Because if somebody is determined to get into your network, and they have the skills to get in there, they will get in there. So, what do you do after they've gotten in there?” 

Skoog joined the State of Business podcast to discuss the virtual mistakes manufacturers make, how they can best protect themselves from cyberattacks and more. 

“Another mistake that's made is the way that many manufacturers look at how they secure their data,” he said. “And I see a lot of companies that try a one-size-fits-all approach for their protection needs.” 

Skoog said manufacturers fail in focusing solely on technology solutions and protecting their external network, and while that is critical, they also need to consider weaknesses inside the network and their own employees. 

Ensuring that staff are using strong passwords and understand how to look out for phishing or ransomware emails is a vital part of protecting your business. Documenting your policies to prepare for emergencies, such as when IT staff leave, will go a long way in ensuring you aren’t leaving yourself vulnerable to attacks. 

“The vast majority of breaches that happen it's not because somebody technically thought of a way to break through the company's external network,” Skoog said. “They came in through the inside.” 

He recommended to make only vital people administrators, that way staff doesn’t have the power to download harmful material. Limiting what certain employees can do on their computers or on certain workstations also restricts the amount of unintentional damage someone can do. 

Many manufacturers are working with “legacy machinery” Skoog said, and relaying on old operating systems that are susceptible to modern day viruses. 

“That’s the criteria a hacker is looking at,” he said. “And manufacturing is one of the industries that really hasn't spent a lot of money on securing that protection.” 

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