25 June, 2024

IT - stay protected

01 October, 2019

Using some kind of computer technology has become de rigueur for many people in business and industry today. Indeed, it is now playing a critical role within digital transformation; the world of Industry 4.0, the Industrial Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence et al. However, as we become more reliant and dependent on IT, along comes the dark side – the risk of cyber-crime. And things are looking pretty grim in this regard. According to a new report published by Make UK more than half of manufacturers have been the victim of cyber-crime, and a third of those have suffered some financial loss or disruption to business as a result.

The manufacturing sector is the fifth most targeted for attack in 2019, behind government systems and finance. Yet, the report points out that manufacturing – which has 2.6 million employees, provides 10 per cent of UK output and 70% of business research and development – remains among the least protected sector against cyber-crime in Britain.

The report, ‘Cyber-Security and Manufacturing – A Briefing for Manufacturers by Make UK’, casts a light on the full extent of the threat across the sector from loss of data, theft of capital and intellectual property along with disruption to business and catastrophic impact on the trading reputation of a business. Alarmingly, all expert opinion points to the fact that many more attacks will have gone undetected, with businesses woefully prepared to protect themselves against this ever-growing threat or to detect a breach after the event.

Cyber threat is increasingly a business-critical issue, with 41% of manufacturers reporting that they have already been asked by a customer to demonstrate or guarantee the robustness of their cyber security processes. Yet, when asked if they would be able to do this successfully, 31% of businesses said they would be unable to give those guarantees of cyber safety if asked.

Investment in the latest digital technologies is also being hampered, with many companies holding back from implementing the latest innovations for fear of increased exposure to cyber-attack. Some 35% of businesses admitted they are currently not fully investing in new digital processes even when not doing so will leave them unable to compete in an ever-changing and developing global marketplace.

Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation, reflects that digitisation is revolutionising modern manufacturing and no facet of our sector will be untouched. “The rewards are obvious,” he said, “technological leaps in the design, development, fabrication and operation of the goods and services the UK makes. But the cyber security threat to manufacturers is growing and evolving with it.”

Phipson also made the point that no business can afford to ignore this issue any longer and too many are still burying their heads in the sand. “This is a strategic threat; failing to get this right as a nation could cost the UK economy billions of pounds and put thousands of jobs at risk,” he remarked. “Make UK recognises the vital role we can play in supporting manufacturers in the face of this challenge. That is why we are partnering with leading cyber security experts Vauban Group to make sure we are able to help our members with the latest protective technologies and support to deliver new cyber security services that will help manufacturers mitigate against current and future threats.”

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