Practical steps

UK manufacturers have felt the negative economic impact of the pandemic with full force. Early chaos in overseas markets disrupted supply chains and led to the manufacturing industry encountering disarray very early on, with countless goods remaining unsold and products unassembled. From then on, the sector continued to battle against ceaseless obstacles. Many factories across the UK were forced to close and those that remained open operated with reduced staff due to social distancing regulations as well as increased sickness.

These issues, coupled with Brexit, have caused major setbacks for the industry over the past year. Yet another hugely pressing but less visible issue for manufacturers is the battle against cybercriminals. Cybercriminals used the pandemic as an opportunity to launch cyberattacks against essential industries and the manufacturing sector has been one of the hardest hit.

In a recent report, NTT revealed that the manufacturing industry saw a 300 percent increase in worldwide attacks over the past year. The impact is hugely damaging to customers and employees alike. As manufacturing enterprises across the globe permanently transition to a hybrid working model, it’s crucial industry leaders make significant changes to prevent enterprises from being further crippled by the costly actions of cybercriminals.

The inevitable repercussions of the overnight digital transformation
According to management consultancy McKinsey, 2020 saw advances of three to four years on average in business digital transformation journeys. The pandemic accelerated adoption of digital formats and processes across all sectors. For many businesses, the cloud has replaced filing cabinets and Zoom has become the new managerial meeting room.

Fortunately, many of these digital transformations have made the workplace far more efficient. But, due to the speed at which entirely new communication tools and cloud processes were adopted, the normal lengthy planning, trial and deployment stages were sidestepped, creating vulnerabilities for cybercriminals to exploit.

A costly mistake for manufacturers amidst the pandemic
For manufacturers, the damage created by this oversight has been calamitous and the cost of cyberattacks for the industry sector is severe. The UK government estimates that the current cost of cybercrime is at £27 billion per annum and rising. Coupled with any weaknesses created through Brexit and poor trading conditions in many sectors, a successful cyberattack has the potential to cause lethal damage for any UK manufacturing business.

Manufacturers have suffered at the hands of cybercriminals over the past year and now understand the pivotal importance of implementing a strong system of defense against cybercriminals. In PWC’s recent survey, 45 percent of respondents see remote working as a priority and so navigating this transition effectively will be crucial for manufacturers across the UK.

Passwords should be a priority moving forward
Whilst many recognize that longer and more complex passwords are hard to crack, people continue to opt for trivial passwords because they’re easier to remember.

Password management platforms remediate this situation by generating and remembering unique passwords so the user doesn’t need to. What’s more, the best of these operate on a ‘zero trust’ and ‘zero knowledge’ security architecture, meaning the passwords and encryption key management will not reside with the technology provider – instead, they always reside with the client to ensure the highest level of defense is in place.

With only 35 per cent of UK manufacturing businesses making cybersecurity training for staff a priority over the next one to two years, this is a time-efficient step to ensure enterprises are protected. A password management platform blocks a cybercriminal’s route of entry, creating an effective barrier against cyberattacks.

The pandemic has sharpened the manufacturing sector’s focus on cybersecurity, with 63 per cent of respondents viewing cybersecurity as a top priority over the next one to two years. But manufacturers must understand how to future-proof against cyberattacks in order to successfully implement change. While current emergencies always seem most urgent, enterprises must establish practical defensive steps now to avoid severe long-term damage as the repercussions of the pandemic continue to escalate across the cyberthreat landscape.

Darren Guccione
Darren Guccione is CEO & Co-founder of Keeper Security (Keeper) the highly-rated and patented cybersecurity platform for preventing password-related data breaches and cyberthreats. Keeper’s zero-knowledge security and encryption software is trusted by millions of people and thousands of businesses across the globe to mitigate the risk of cybertheft, boost employee productivity and meet compliance standards. Keeper is SOC-2 and ISO 27001 Certified and is also listed for use by the U.S. federal government through the System for Award Management (SAM).