Cloud-based Manufacturing • July 3, 2018

Cybersecurity Threats Grow with Digitization on the Rise



According to the Oliver Wyman Cybersecurity Special Report, the severity of cybersecurity breaches is on the rise with each passing year. Regardless of the extreme number of breach reports, the magnitude of the issue has resulted in the mention of this major concern in a multitude of user surveys. According to the survey, complacency and high risk of a breach are a growing threat to the MRO industry. This blog discusses the escalation of the cybersecurity concerns and gives a precautionary tale to those who may potentially be affected.  

Cybersecurity Data Reveals Significant Impact on the Industry

A research report from Barracuda found that 87% of companies faced an email security threat within the past year. These threats primarily come in the form of phishing emails posing as suppliers, partners, customers, financial institutions or other trusted sites. Even more troubling is the fact that one third of companies have experience a ransomware attack. With these breaches, cyber criminals will shut down systems and databases, demanding a ransom for returned access. 88% of companies have reported concerns about this occurrence.

There are many cases of breach within component and supplier services. Hackers, for example, used phishing to steal the credentials of a heating, ventilation and air conditioning vendors, penetrating the network of retail giant, Target. This led to the theft of the personal data of 70 million customers and the personal information from approximately 40 million payment cards, costing Target $300 million in lost business, brand impact and customer loss.

Digitization Guides Security Issues to the Top

This security problem is being exacerbated by the ongoing digital transformation. Some companies are rushing to digitize their networks and assets, yet fail to find adequate security support. There are clear benefits to creating a global, interconnected MRO industry via digitization and system integration, however these benefits come with heightened risk. Digitization opens doors wider to hackers. As a result, Oliver Wyman urges the industry to work together to strengthen its cybersecurity and risk management practices around digital operations.

Part of the issue is that sprawling, end-to-end digitized networks offer many avenues of attack. Security can be relatively strong in MRO, however a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Thus, it is important to identify where any potential vulnerabilities lie from one end of the supply chain to the next. Aviation companies, for example, may institute a robust perimeter and multiple layers of security technologies, but without taking precautionary measure,  all of these efforts can be undone.

Third-party vendors, suppliers or partners, who access data systems and components, are a particular area of weakness within MRO. Manufacturing necessities demand a tighter supply chain, transparent data interchange and more rapid process, so data sharing is essential.

Protecting the MRO Industry for Cybersecurity Dominance

Consider the implications for MRO. Many within the supply chain have access to the networks of the world’s airlines, aircraft OEMs and engine and component-parts makers. That makes even small suppliers prime targets for infiltration. Hackers will probe their networks and tempt users via phishing in the hope of gaining entry. They can show incredible patience. By gaining entry through a relatively small vendor within the MRO supply chain, they can gradually move up the food chain to more lucrative targets.

Thus, security professionals and developers must take a broader view of network security and institute best practices to prevent unauthorized access. It’s important to understand that infiltration by hackers is not a matter of if, but when. In fact, cyber criminals may already have an undetected presence within the current networks of MRO providers right now. The solution is defense in depth. Behavioral analytics and threat intelligence systems offer additional layers of defense. They help organizations to spot unusual traffic patterns.

The bottom line is that vigilant security goes hand in hand with digital transformation. This extends across every facet of the MRO supply chain and all members of the MRO ecosystem are potential targets. iBase-t Solumina offers a secure platform for manufacturers and MRO providers to integrate their many systems and more easily control access. Its software enables the digital transformation and offers a platform on which security measures can be layered to prevent incursion.

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