How Vulnerable is Your Manufacturing Organization to a Cyber Attack?

ones and zeros overlayed on a computer screen image with a danger symbol to signify cybersecurity vulnerability in manufacturing

“I didn’t think it could happen to us.”

It’s something we hear all too often when working with companies that have found themselves the victim of a cyberattack. Some believe their company is too small to be a target. Or they believe their data isn’t valuable enough to put them in the crosshairs of cybercriminals. Some believe they’re still protected by one-time, dated and antiquated cybersecurity measures they took years ago.

Fortinet’s recent whitepaper A Solution Guide to Operational Technology revealed that according to IBM Security X-Force, there has been a 2,204% increase in reconnaissance against operational technology (OT) networks. In the first quarter of 2022, manufacturers accounted for 75% of all ransomware attacks.

Cyber criminals don’t care how large your organization is. If you’re vulnerable to attack, you’re a target for cybercrime. Are you doing enough to prevent it?

Why is the Manufacturing Industry Vulnerable to Cybercrime?

There are myriad reasons cybercriminals have set their sights on the manufacturing industry. But these are the three biggest reasons your organization is susceptible:

You Have Low to No Tolerance for Downtime

Simply put, your business success depends on productivity. If production isn’t happening, you aren’t generating revenue. Your operational technology is the lifeblood of your productivity, controlling critical infrastructure your organization depends on to produce the products your customers demand. Cyber criminals know how costly an outage can be to your operation, and how desperate you’ll be to get out of one if they attack.

Your Facilities Are Operating with Legacy Systems & Equipment

If you’re like most manufacturers, your production system is a series of machines and other technology that’s been bolted together over time. Legacy equipment often lacks modern security features or updates, which creates vulnerabilities ripe for exploitation. We often talk to manufacturers who chose to update nothing, because they didn’t have the immediate budget to update all of it. These are the types of plant networks attackers are looking for.

Your OT Network is No Longer Air-Gapped

Many manufacturers are operating under the false assumption that they are protected by an air gap between their network and the outside world that previously kept their OT systems nearly invulnerable to cyberattacks. The truth is the integration of your IT and OT networks has eliminated that air gap. The Applied Technologies team has examined many OT networks in detail and has yet to find a manufacturer with a sufficient air gap to prevent an attack. If you don’t have a demilitarized zone (DMZ) in your OT environment, separating the local area network from untrusted networks like the public internet, you’re at risk.

If your network went down or was compromised today, how long would it take to get your overall operation back up and running? The increase in attacks on manufacturing companies mean it’s no longer about if you will be a victim, but when and how prepared you will be. The time to act is now.

We understand that the process of securing your network can be overwhelming, and it’s hard to know where to start. That’s why Applied Technologies offers a comprehensive Network and Cybersecurity Vulnerability Assessment. This process allows us to evaluate your current network and environment, identify and prioritize existing vulnerabilities, and deliver a tailored solution to protect your operations and reputation by enhancing bottom-line security.

The Plant Network and Cybersecurity Vulnerability Assessment is the perfect starting point on your network security journey because it will provide:

  • Fiber Topology Discovery: Document the currently installed fiber paths throughout the site. The fiber make and type will allow discovering a network that can use the current installed fiber and determine when the existing network should be expanded.
  • Network Topology Discovery: The topology of the network required to meet the communication needs of the end-devices (PAC, sensors, mobile devices, safety, communications, etc.) will be documented through FactoryTalk Network Manager. If PEMKO. can either allow the “public” SNMPv2 community string or provide the community string provisioned in the plant, the network topology can be mapped. The network topology will then be overlayed onto the physical network (fiber topology).
  • VLAN/Subnet Discovery: The plant network will be discovered. If there are multiple subnets on the plant network and goal is to document these subnets to the cell areas and the OT/IT networks. Additional VLAN discovery may be required.
  • IP Addressing Discovery: Cell areas that have common equipment types should be laid out, so the last IP octet value ranges are defined. This will assist when adding new equipment to an existing cell area or performing troubleshooting. Defining and documenting IP values also helps in defining when a new cell area should be created.
  • Vulnerability Discovery Service Critical Findings Report: Based on the site walkthrough and data collection conducted, this report will include the following:
    • Total Number of Assets (OT, IT, IoT, and Protocols)
    • Asset Distribution by Type
    • Asset Vendors
    • Asset Distribution by Family Type
    • Top Critical Assets
    • Critical Vulnerabilities
    • Insights
    • Assets

There are many reasons the Plant Network and Cybersecurity Vulnerability Assessment is a critical first step to securing your network. It will allow you to:

  • Proactively discover vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and unsecured network connections.
  • Reduce cyber risk in your industrial infrastructure.
  • Identify and classify all assets across your network.
  • Examine version control in the OT environment and receive recommendations for upgrades to enhance security.
  • Arrive at an actionable plan for remediation of your OT network hygiene and hidden threats.

Why Partner with Applied Technologies for Cybersecurity Solutions?

female network administrator working to ensure cybersecurity in her company's manufacturing facility. There are companies popping up every day who make promises about how well they can protect you from cyber threats. Why should you trust Applied Technologies?

For starters, Applied Technologies is a professional services division of Agilix Solutions, a leading distributor in the industrial automation and communications space with more than a hundred years of history, and a Rockwell Automation Authorized Service Provider. Our track record speaks for itself when it comes to helping customers get to the bottom of their problems and solutions.

We also feature a bench of experts with knowledge in both IT and OT networks and components. There are no gaps in our ability to evaluate and diagnose your entire network infrastructure. We aren’t trying to sell you a specific product. We offer tailored solutions and an inventory to provide everything you need for your specific needs. We have a team of highly certified engineers with technical certifications including CCNP, CCNA, and CISSP.

If your organization has not yet been the victim of a cyberattack, consider yourselves fortunate but don’t mistake luck for safety. Be proactive, and reach out to the Applied Technologies team to request your Plant Network and Cybersecurity Vulnerability Assessment today.