« Back To News
Wipfli Logo

Member Since 2016


With more than 7,500 manufacturing and distribution clients and over 300 industry-focused professionals, Wipfli ranks among the top 20 advisory and accounting firms in the nation. From operational improvements and performance enhancements to large-scale digital transformation, we help clients achieve

Content Filed Under:

Security/Surveillance Security/Surveillance


Emerging Tech for Manufacturing: Reduce Risks with Cybersecurity

POSTED 08/30/2021

For many manufacturers, there’s nothing worse than realizing your security has been breached. Was data stolen? Were machine functions changed? Have you been locked out of your own system?

Consider the following statistics and whether your business might be ill-prepared for an attack:

  • A business falls victim to a cyberattack every 11 seconds (Cybersecurity Ventures)
  • The average time it takes to identify and contain a data breach is 280 days (IBM)
  • As of 2020, the average cost of a data breach was $3.86 million (IBM)
  • Cybercrime costs the world economy $6 trillion annually (Cybersecurity Ventures)
  • One in five small and medium-sized businesses have said they’ve fallen victim to a ransomware attack (Datto, via NIST)
  • 77% of industrial companies rank cybersecurity as a high priority (Kaspersky Labs, via NIST)
  • 62% of small businesses claim that they lack the skills in-house to be able to properly deal with security issues (Continuum)
  • In the first half of 2019, more than 4.1 billion records were exposed as a result of data breaches (RiskBased, via NIST)
  • Impersonation fraud increased by 30% in the first 100 days of COVID-19 as more businesses transitioned to remote work environments (Mimecast)
  • The realities of remote work add an estimated $137 thousand to the average cost of a breach (IBM)

These are just some of the staggering statistics behind one of manufacturing’s biggest threats of the modern digital age. Whether it is ransomware, spyware, phishing, or an unintended data breach, manufacturing’s growing dependence on technology also leaves it vulnerable to technology-based attacks.

What can you do to stay in business even as online criminals look for a way in? Remember, cybercriminals usually don’t care who they attack, and, like most criminals, they’ll target the easiest victim. That’s why your business could be at greatest risk.

You aren’t “too small” to matter.

Many manufacturers still believe that cyberattacks only hit businesses with an identifiable brand, global recognition, or a high number of employees. In fact, small manufacturers are often more likely to be targeted as they are less likely to have strong IT security and might be more likely to pay a ransom — any one attack could cripple a small business whereas larger companies could manage the hit easier.

Ask the right questions.

Half the battle against cyberattacks is knowing you are fighting a battle and asking the right questions. Your executive team should be working with in-house or external IT professionals and your mid-level leadership to combat the threat head on. Ask the following questions:

  • What are the major security concerns relating to your company’s future success?
  • Are you allocating resources to properly address those concerns?
  • Are you in compliance with existing regulatory requirements?
  • How do you manage passwords and authentication protocols both on-site and in an increasingly remote work world?
  • Is your most sensitive data secured properly and backed up regularly?
  • Have you addressed the risk of cyberattacks with your employees and discussed security policies through regular training?

Don’t be the unlocked door.

Imagine your business as one car parked in a parking garage. A car thief (our cybercriminal) may have a particular skillset — maybe they are really good at stealing SUVs — but usually they are just looking for the easy theft. If your car is left unlocked, you’ve done most of the work for them. By investing in proper cybersecurity, you can deter criminals simply by showing them that the time it takes to hack into your business isn’t worth the perceived reward.

The Human Problem

Eighty-eight percent of cybersecurity breaches can be traced back to human error. Staying with the parked car analogy, even the greatest, state-of-the-art, anti-theft security system in the world won’t matter if you leave the door unlocked and the keys in the ignition. That’s why your employees need to understand the threat of cyberattacks and be properly trained to follow security protocols and identify and report potential breaches when they see them. And wherever possible, create a culture of trust in your people. If they think they’ll lose your trust or their job when a mistake is made, they’ll never come to let you know they clicked on that e-mail link or forgot to turn off a system at the end of the day.

It’s not if, but when.

You’re going to be breached. For all the security you could put in place, the odds just aren’t in your favor. Every business is a target. Manufacturing is specifically attractive to hackers. It only takes one attack. Human error is the most common reason behind an attack. All of these facts together — plus knowing security is usually playing catch-up to the criminal — means most businesses will experience at least one breach.

It’s up to you and your team to put a plan in place to ensure when that attack comes, the impact is as minimal as possible and the response to it is both quick and effective. Invest in dedicated IT professionals, the creation of a cybersecurity strategy, critical infrastructure, network security and consistent employee training.

Contact Us

Reach out today for more professional advice and assistance in locating resources related to cybersecurity for manufacturing & distribution. Interested in other emerging technologies that could move your manufacturing business forward? Check out Clayton & McKervey content on enterprise resource planning (ERP) systemsartificial intelligence (AI)robotic process automation (RPA), and blockchain technology.