UK manufacturing most vulnerable to cyber-crime

Cyber-crime poses a significant threat to British manufacturers’ as a result of weak investment in protection against cyber-attacks, suggests new research.

Cyber security coding
Almost half of British manufacturing companies have been targets of cyber-crime with a quarter of them suffering financial loss or disruption to business, according to a recent survey.

Manufacturers’ vulnerable to cyber-crime

The survey, conducted by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) for the manufacturers’ organisation EEF and AIG, found that, despite the widespread attacks, manufacturing was the sector least protected against cyber-crime.The report, ‘Cyber-Security for Manufacturing’, revealed that 41 per cent of the 161 companies surveyed did not believe they had access to enough information to even assess their true cyber risk. And 45 per cent did not feel they had access to the right tools to counter the threat.EEF commented, “Cyber threat is holding back companies from investing in digital technologies, with a third of those surveyed nervous of digital improvement. Moreover, a worryingly large 12 per cent of manufacturers admit they have no technical or managerial processes in place to even to start assessing the real risk.”The report said the systems most susceptible to cyber-attack were poorly protected office systems, often the first implemented historically within manufacturing businesses. The report looked at a number of real-life examples, including two where companies production systems were infiltrated and severely disrupted after hackers gained access to their IT systems by initially hacking into unprotected office software, used to keep HR and administrative records.
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Stephen Phipson, chief executive of EEF, said, “More and more companies are at risk of attack and manufacturers urgently need to take steps to protect themselves against this burgeoning threat. “EEF has a vital role supporting manufacturers in the face of this challenge and we are working closely with RUSI, whose world-leading Cyber Security Research Programme is well established as a key voice to understand the fight against the threat of ever evolving cyber-crime to the modern business.“We know businesses cannot afford to ignore this issue any longer and while we welcome government’s progress in improving cyber-security resilience...there needs to be an increasing focus given to the specific needs of manufacturing, which hitherto has been lacking.“Failing to get this right could cost the UK economy billions of pounds, put thousands of jobs at risk and delay the supply of essential equipment to key public services and major national infrastructure projects. I hope this report underlines the critical risk to government and industry”.

The threat of international cyber attacks

Romaney O’Malley, head of industrials at AIG Europe, added, “For many manufacturers, cyber risk is still not considered a principal risk on the risk register. Nevertheless, the cyber threat landscape has evolved over the last year, with attacks becoming more sophisticated and more broadly disruptive.“There is an increasing level of state-sponsored attacks between nation states, where companies infected by malware may just be collateral damage. The potential threat from cyber-crime is widespread.”Dr Karin Von Hippel, director-general of RUSI, said, “The importance of the manufacturing sector to the security of the UK economy cannot be overstated. Increasing digitisation creates further opportunities, but also exposes us to potential vulnerabilities to cyber-attacks, whether from criminals or nation-state adversaries. The sector needs to recognise these risks and respond accordingly.”
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