manufacturers cybersecurity

Small Manufacturers Play Critical Role in Securing the Supply Chain, Data Shows

by Nicolette Emmino

While it is true that the manufacturing sector does not attract the volume of total cyberattacks as other areas of the economy, research has shown that coordinated cyber espionage targets manufacturing more than any other sector.

For this reason, ISACA and the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) recently partnered to conduct a survey that explored the cybersecurity challenges faced by the global manufacturing industry. Survey findings showed that manufacturers still face security concerns, including those related to Internet of Things (IoT)-integrated devices and employee error, and that they continue to struggle with finding skilled cybersecurity staff and may be underspending on security training.

The survey, conducted in August 2018, captured responses from 167 participants from across ISACA, DMDII and Manufacturing Extension Partnership stakeholders. Where possible, these findings were compared against ISACA’s 2018 State of Cybersecurity and 2018 Cybersecurity Culture research findings for all industries.

“Three-quarters of U.S. manufacturing firms have fewer than 20 employees and 98 percent have fewer than 500. To shore up the resiliency of the U.S. supply chain, reaching small manufacturers is essential, and understanding their needs and capabilities is a crucial initial step,” said Kevin McDunn, Chief Product Officer of DMDII. “This survey begins this important work that will lead to the type of accessible, low-cost tools and training opportunities that DMDII can develop and get into the hands of these manufacturers.”

Survey results revealed some areas of strength related to the manufacturing industry’s approach to cybersecurity when compared against all industries:

  • 78% of manufacturing organizations have a formal process for dealing with cybersecurity incidents, and 68% have one for ransomware attacks.
  • 77% expressed confidence in their security team’s abilities to detect and respond to advanced persistent threats (APTs).
  • 34% noted they were experiencing more cybersecurity attacks today than a year ago, compared to 62% across all industries from ISACA’s 2018 State of Cybersecurity survey.
  • 74% indicated they believed their organization’s cybersecurity training budgets would either increase or at least be maintained at current levels; only 4 percent anticipated a decrease in the coming year.

Despite these positive data points, the survey results also revealed areas where the industry still needs to make progress:

  • 75% of manufacturing organizations have a program in place to promote cybersecurity awareness among their employees, but only 37 percent believe that their programs are very to completely effective.
  • 47% of manufacturing organizations are spending less than $1,000 on average each year on continuing education opportunities for their staff—versus 25% in other industries—and nearly 1 in 10 reported that their enterprises spent nothing on average each year on these educational opportunities.
  • 81% of manufacturing organizations are somewhat to very concerned about the potential cybersecurity risks with personal, internet-connected devices. 58% don’t allow those devices to connect to the corporate network and 72% don’t allow those devices to connect to the corporate network on the manufacturing floor.
  • Finding skilled cyber-staff remains challenging; a 1.8 million worker shortage is anticipated by 2022. Respondents indicated it takes an average of five months to fill open positions and 61 percent of hiring managers said less than half of applicants are qualified.

“Though the manufacturing industry has made great strides in addressing security issues, this research illustrates the need for organizations to elevate cybersecurity as a priority to build the foundation of its cybersecurity culture, better secure their operations, and strengthen the global digital economic ecosystem,” said Frank Downs, Director of Cybersecurity Practices at ISACA. “Partnerships and information sharing, like ISACA’s collaboration with DMDII on this study, are becoming increasingly key to accomplishing these goals.”

To read ISACA and CMMI’s 2018 Cybersecurity Culture Report and related executive summary, infographic and blog posts, visit ISACA’s State of Cybersecurity report and related blog post, resources and infographic can be found at

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