5 Ways to Reduce Your Company's Risk of Cyber Attacks

As manufacturing technology grows and spreads, cybersecurity is essential to your everyday operations. While IoT infrastructures, digitized machinery, and other systems help make your company more efficient and connected, they also carry a risk, as your equipment and data can become susceptible to outside viruses, malware, and ransomware. This is especially true of outdated equipment, as its lack of support for new software opens doors for unauthorized access of essential data.

Due to high-profile breaches like those of Target and Yahoo!, one popular misconception is that small companies are less susceptible to cyberattacks. However, they are actually more vulnerable due to not having the right software or tools for protection; in fact, the average cost of a data breach for small companies in 2015 was more than $38,000, and it’s estimated more than half of companies that experience a cyberattack go out of business within six months.

There are many solutions to prevent this from happening… but where do you start?

Identify and assess your existing procedures.
Think about how data is currently being accessed. Who can open confidential documents or vital information about your business? Is the data stored on a secure platform? Do you have it backed up elsewhere in case of server failure? Are passwords changed often? While these may seem like common sense at first glance, it’s best to always have answers to these questions as they help determine where you are with your IT and cybersecurity needs.

Determine next steps for protection from hackers.
If you find your preventative measures are lacking, take extra steps to ensure you’re less vulnerable to attacks.

Some of these may include:
– Updating your operating systems, applications, and other systems on a regular basis
– Set up spam filters for your email database
– Secure your internet access by setting a password
– Schedule routine backups of important business data once or twice a week
– Utilize data encryption for confidential business information (finances, patents, etc.)

Install antivirus software.
Hackers who target manufacturers generally get data through malware, which can be isolated and eliminated through the latest antivirus software. Companies like BitDefender and Symantec (Norton) make software you can easily install on various operating systems to protect your employees’ computers. You can also utilize third parties for other options, especially if you have a large number of employees or wish to equip your IoT systems with similar security.

Develop a breach response plan.
Despite your best efforts, there may come a time when you find your systems have been infiltrated by hackers. Creating an appropriate response plan not only staves off panic, but helps you determine what needs to be done to prevent it from happening a second time.

Some measures consist of the following:
– Recording the date/time the breach was discovered and alerting all necessary parties
– Interviewing all employees involved and documenting the process
– Notifying law enforcement
– Determining what caused the breach and how to fix it
– Bringing in an IT/forensics firm for further investigation and assessment of needs

Train your employees on cybersecurity measures.
Hackers often find their way into manufacturing systems as a result of phishing, which can happen if an employee opens a spam email or clicks a tracking link that grants access to outside parties. While your workers are likely smart enough to avoid wiring money to another country, it’s possible for cyber criminals to deceive them by impersonating the CEO or someone from your finance department. Invest time and money in training your workers on how to avoid these scams and protect their systems. This can usually be done with the help of outside consultants or IT firms, which can also help manage your services and software packages.

Need to protect yourself or take the next step in evaluating your cybersecurity needs? Contact Linda Barita at 216.391.7766 or email linda.barita@magnetwork.org to schedule an appointment with one of our Growth Advisors!

Posted by Bob Baxendale in Cybersecurity

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