There has been a 24% increase in the number of data breaches caused by malicious attacks since 2014. As cybercriminals continue to sharpen their hacking capabilities, it’s increasingly important to protect your manufacturing operations against them with a strong cybersecurity strategy in order to protect your financial bottom line and reputation. October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, so let’s dig into some statistics and best practices to keep your cybersecurity strategy strong.

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A Quick Breakdown: What Is Cybersecurity?

Computer security, cybersecurity, or information technology security is the protection of computer systems and networks from information disclosure, theft of, or damage to their hardware, software, or electronic data, as well as from the disruption or misdirection of the services they provide. Basically, cybersecurity entails securing your digital assets.

There are many risks, some more serious than others, to not having a fortified cybersecurity plan for your manufacturing company. For example, your business could risk malware locking you out of your systems or erasing all of your data, an attacker breaking into your system and altering files, an attacker using your computer to attack others, an attacker stealing your credit card information and making unauthorized purchases, or an attacker stealing your or your customers’ intellectual property. 

What Is Cybersecurity Awareness Month?

Cybersecurity Awareness Month was launched by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in October 2004. In 2020, Cybersecurity Awareness Month resources were reached by more than 102 million people across 54 countries and all 50 states.

The overarching theme for Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2021 is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart” which empowers individuals and organizations to own their role in protecting their part of cyberspace. If everyone does their part—implementing stronger security practices, raising community awareness, educating vulnerable audiences, or training employees—the digital world will be safer and more resilient for everyone. 

When Cybersecurity Awareness Month first began, the awareness efforts centered around advice like updating your antivirus software twice a year to mirror similar efforts around changing batteries in smoke alarms during daylight saving time. Today, the month’s effort has grown to include the participation of a multitude of industry leaders that engage their customers, employees, stakeholders and the general public in awareness, as well as college campuses, non-profits, and other groups.

How to Get Involved in Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2021 

There are a number of ways to get involved during Cybersecurity Awareness Month, including:

As the name suggests, the goal of Cybersecurity Awareness Month is to spread awareness, information, and resources to help everyone maintain a responsible online presence.

cybersecurity best practices

5 Cybersecurity Best Practices to Follow

There’s no guarantee your manufacturing operation won’t fall victim to cyber attacks, but there are steps you can take to minimize the chances. In the spirit of raising awareness on the importance of your business’ cybersecurity, here are some tips to follow:

Keep Software Up to Date

Install software patches so that attackers cannot take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities. Many operating systems offer automatic updates, so if this option is available, you should enable it. 

This includes antivirus software, which is an important protective measure against known malicious threats. It can automatically detect, quarantine, and remove various types of malware. Be sure to enable automatic virus definition updates to ensure maximum protection against the latest threats.

Use Strong Passwords

Select passwords that will be difficult for attackers to guess, and use different passwords for different programs and devices. It’s best to use long, strong passphrases or passwords that consist of at least 16 characters. 66% of Americans use the same password across multiple online accounts—which means it would only take a hacker to figure out one password to access multiple accounts and compromise your digital assets.

Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Authentication is a process used to validate a user’s identity; attackers commonly exploit weak authentication processes. MFA uses at least two identity components to authenticate a user’s identity, minimizing the risk of a cyberattacker gaining access to an account if they know the username and password.

Install a Firewall

Firewalls may be able to prevent some types of attack paths by blocking malicious traffic before it can enter a computer system and by restricting unnecessary outbound communications. Some device operating systems include a firewall; be sure to enable and properly configure the firewall as specified in the device or system owner’s manual because this is another automatic safeguard against cybercriminals.

Be Suspicious of Unexpected Emails

14% of malicious data breaches in 2020 were caused by phishing, making it currently one of the most prevalent risks to the average user. The goal of a phishing email is to gain information about you, steal money from you, or install malware on your device. It’s good to have a healthy amount of caution before opening an attachment on an email you weren’t expecting since that might save your manufacturing business from digital damage.

How CMTC Can Help Protect Your Business from Cybersecurity Threats

CMTC is here to help small and medium-sized manufacturers to map out and assess the potential threats and develop a game plan for cybersecurity. Whether you’re needing to meet cybersecurity compliance requirements from the Department of Defense, wanting to review NIST essentials for information security, or brushing up on general best practices, CMTC can help you navigate the changing cybersecurity landscape.

Contact us for more information!

About the Author

Gregg Profozich

Gregg Profozich is a manufacturing, operations and technology executive who believes that manufacturing is the key creator of wealth in the economy and that a strong manufacturing sector is critical to our nation’s prosperity and security now, and for future generations. Across his 20-year plus career in manufacturing, operations and technology consulting, Mr. Profozich helped manufacturing companies from the Fortune 500 to the small, independents significantly improve their productivity and competitiveness.

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