Manufacturers in Michigan are facing a cyber threat they may not have considered. Large companies may begin to feel quite secure about cybersecurity. It is easy to see why. After years of threats and devastating stories of breaches, larger manufacturing companies have invested heavily in the hardware, software, and personnel to ensure data and operations are safe from malicious actors. Some have built strong enough defenses so that hackers decide to look elsewhere for easier targets. However, these easier targets may help criminals find their way into the systems of large manufacturers. How? Right through the back door.
While the largest companies often get the most attention, the majority of Michigan's manufacturing industry is made up of much smaller companies that constitute the overall industrial supply chain. Advances in technology have made these partnerships and collaborations seamless. Manufacturers can easily share data with suppliers to ensure there are no issues with the flow of raw materials and component parts. It is this same technology that can create a backdoor for cybercriminals.
Unlike the larger manufacturers, these companies lower on the supply chain often have not invested in hardware, software, and personnel to keep their systems secure. Some don't have the resources, and others may not see the need since they don't seem like much of a target for cybercrime. However, this combination of weak security and access to larger companies' data could cause significant problems for their larger partners.
Small Companies are a Cybercriminal’s Dream Target
According to the Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, 43% of cyber-attacks target small businesses, with 250 or fewer employees. This is putting larger companies on alert. Cybersecurity experts for larger manufacturers are advising their leadership to be more selective about their business partners. This is especially true in areas where data sharing and automation are part of the arrangement. Smart large businesses and government entities are starting to ask questions about their partners' security and may require legally binding security questionnaires or audits to ensure compliance to minimum security standards and best practices. Many small companies may not have the appropriate policies in place or even know how to answer some of these questions.
Security Measures as an Asset
Smaller businesses may be overwhelmed by the need to revamp their cybersecurity compliance practices. It can be expensive and time-consuming to review all aspects of IT and security infrastructure. However, they will begin to find that this investment will give them a competitive advantage in attracting new businesses. With larger manufacturers looking more closely at the security of their partners, firms that can demonstrate modern, effective, and robust IT security practices will quickly gain the attention of security-minded companies. This can be a big win for small companies. Not only will they be protected from cybercrime, but also, in doing so, they will gain a marketable advantage in the form of a higher level of trust. The investment will more than pay for itself in a short time.
Managed Service Provider to the Rescue
The good news is that small companies can get the same enterprise-level security as the larger manufacturers without investing in the same level of personnel. In 2020 manufacturing companies should consider partnering with a Managed Service Provider (MSP). MSPs can begin with a thorough network and security assessment, offering a 3rd party perspective that may uncover previously unseen potential security risks. Then the MSP can help the company develop and implement a comprehensive security plan and oversee the most critical components like anti-virus software, firewalls, patches, intrusion prevention, and ongoing risk assessments. Top Tier MSPs will even produce a company-branded risk report that manufacturers can use when approaching potential new customers and partners.
Effective CyberSecurity is good for business. It is even more critical when manufacturers work closely together to create a smooth supply chain. In these cases, cybersecurity is only as strong as the weakest link, which may be one of the smallest companies in the pipeline. Fortunately, with the help of a Managed Service Provider, companies of all sizes can keep their data and their partners' data safe.