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Cyber Security Awareness

Cyber Risk Threats to Utilities and Manufacturers

By June 16, 2017No Comments

Thousands of utility companies and manufacturing businesses across the United States rely on computers. Cyber attacks can disrupt service and severely inhibit business, though. Learn more about cyber risk threats to utilities and manufacturers and potential solutions.

Common Cyber Threats  

Almost seven in 10 utility companies around the world has experienced at least one security compromise in the past year. These compromises have disrupted operations and affected confidential information. However, less than 30 percent of companies place security as a priority.

According to the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI), four in 10 manufacturing companies experienced a cyber incident this past year. Their losses exceeded $1 million. Additionally, less than 50 percent of manufacturing executives trust that their assets are safe from external threats.

While utility and manufacturing companies each face unique cyber risk threats, potential threats generally fall into several categories.

  • Phishing/pharming
  • Abuse of information technology systems
  • Computer viruses or malware
  • Errors and/or omissions
  • Financial theft
  • Security breaches
  • Vulnerable critical infrastructure
  • Intellectual property theft (primarily manufacturing)
  • Targeted attacks on executives for access to company strategies or financial gain

The Effects of Cyber Risk Threats

The effects of cyber threats on utilities and manufacturing companies are astronomical and affect millions of people.

Imagine the devastation if a utility were infiltrated and held for ransom by hackers or if the customers’ personal data was stolen. Natural gas, water, electric or sewer services could be compromised now and well into the future.

Likewise, manufacturing companies thrive on expensive, cutting-edge technology that assists them in automating production, developing intellectual property and connecting with their supply chains. If that technology is compromised by a cyber threat, the business could come to a standstill.

Protecting Utilities and Manufacturing

Both utility and manufacturing companies are responsible for implementing protective cybersecurity measures. However, implementing those measures can require services to be shut down for a time, and they’re expensive.

Despite the inconvenience and cost, utilities and manufacturers and their customers, clients and supply chain benefit from several detection and prevention measures.

  • Employ a full-time cyber risk monitor.
  • Train and organize the IT and operational technology staff to work together to detect and secure data.
  • Partner with the supply chain, employees and customers to ensure they implement data security precautions.
  • Upgrade equipment regularly.
  • Secure all devices, including mobile devices.
  • Train all employees on cyber security protocols.
  • Plan for a breach and be prepared to recognize and neutralize threats quickly.
  • Be willing to disrupt service temporarily to perform system upgrades and other necessary security measures.

Cyber risk threats to utilities and manufacturers can have devastating effects on the economy and individual lives. Preparing for these threats limits disruption of services and protects utilities and manufacturers.