Top 5 Manufacturing Cybersecurity Threats in 2020

Manufacturers are facing an ever-growing onslaught of cyber threats. In fact, in 2019, one report found that half of manufacturing companies had experienced a data breach or cyber attack. And as technology continues to evolve and become part of daily operations, these attacks threaten to halt manufacturers in their tracks. 

The first step to defending your organization against these threats is awareness. Understanding where your company is vulnerable will help you determine what prevention methods you need. 

So, in this blog, we are going to review some of the most common manufacturing cybersecurity threats companies face. Knowing what you’re up against will help you begin to protect your business from these dangerous attacks.

Top 5 Manufacturing Cybersecurity Threats

The evolution of cybercrime is constant. If you are a manufacturer, it’s imperative to understand the biggest dangers you are facing so that you can brace for them. We’ve rounded up five of the most common cybersecurity threats manufacturing companies come up against so that you can prepare your organization. 

1. Intellectual Property Theft

The technology-driven world in which we live has made IP theft easier. Unfortunately, it’s often overlooked in favor of other types of cyber attacks. According to Deloitte, “compared with more familiar cybercrimes such as the theft of credit card, consumer health, and other personally identifiable information, IP cyber theft has largely remained in the shadows.” 

This is frightening, especially for manufacturing firms, where IP is often a driving force behind their success. In this IndustryWeek article, one US manufacturer stated, “Most manufacturers are small to midsize shops that can’t weather the wholesale rip-off of their intellectual property.” 

Innovation and creativity are at the heart of manufacturing, and having your trade secrets stolen by cybercriminals may just be enough to sink your ship. That’s why all manufacturers need to be aware of the threat of IP theft. By understanding the danger, manufacturing companies can put stricter policies in place and better brace for this type of attack.

2. Phishing

No matter what industry your business operates in, phishing is a constant threat. It’s also one of the oldest threats, and it continues to be one of the most common and widespread forms of attack.

To carry out deadly phishing attacks, hackers utilize a tool workers are on and checking multiple times a day — email. And while certain tools can help prevent phishing, it’s ultimately an attack on humans, not systems or networks.

It all starts with a malicious email that’s disguised as a trustworthy one. The goal is for targets to believe the email is reliable, leading them to click a link or download an attachment. 

What’s especially alarming about phishing attacks in 2020 is how sophisticated and convincing they are getting. Many individuals assume they can easily spot phishing emails. However, criminals are getting extremely good at imitating emails from authoritative and trustworthy sources, making it much easier than people think to fall for a phishing scam.

For manufacturers and other companies alike, training your employees on spotting phishing emails can save you a major headache.  

3. IoT Attacks

The widespread use of the internet of things (IoT) has revolutionized the industry of manufacturing. IoT solutions can decrease supply-chain risk, ensure high-quality products, and increase efficiency. However, connected IoT systems come with an inherent downside. They can enable deadly cyber attacks that allow a criminal to infiltrate your network through your devices.

Often, organizations pay less attention to securing IoT devices than other aspects of their network. And because these devices connect to the internet, they can open a doorway for hackers if left unprotected. 

When these devices affect critical systems, one successful IoT attack can halt the entire manufacturing process. And we all know that with downtime, comes costs. 

So manufacturers need to pay close attention to their IoT devices and systems, ensuring that they are well secured from external threats. 

4. Supply Chain Attacks

Now more than ever, manufacturing firms receive and supply sensitive information to many different enterprises. From vendors to partners, these digital touchpoints allow for more efficient and effective operations. 

However, one thing that manufacturers need to be aware of is the threat of supply chain attacks. 

This type of attack is a popular choice of many cybercriminals and was the cause of many of the biggest data breaches we’ve seen — such as the Target breach. 

In a supply chain attack, a hacker will gain access to a partner or provider that has access to your systems and data. Through this relationship, the criminal can enter your network, steal your data, and cause significant harm to your company.

To manage this third-party risk, manufacturers need to be extremely aware of who they are sharing information with and what cybersecurity measures these partners have in place. It’s no longer enough to worry about your own company’s safeguards. You need to protect your data and systems from every point. 

5. Ransomware

Ransomware is an increasingly dangerous threat and, unfortunately, all too common. Every business is in fear of a ransomware attack, but for manufacturers especially, it can cost them everything. 

This deadly malware variant usually infects your systems when an unsuspecting employee accidentally clicks on a malicious link or attachment in a phishing email. And once someone opens this door for ransomware to creep in, it encrypts an organization’s data, possibly spreading throughout the entire network. 

To regain access to their information, companies must pay the requested ransom, which is often tens of thousands of dollars. Not to mention, the cost of downtime. 

That’s what makes this threat so scary and why many businesses don’t recover after being hit with ransomware. To avoid this scenario, as we mentioned above, manufacturers need to be training their employees on spotting malicious emails. Few products can prevent ransomware, it usually all comes back to one phishing email.

On top of that, manufacturers need to be backing up their data. Once ransomware has encrypted your systems, it’s extremely hard to reverse it. The easiest way out is if you have a backup of your systems. So make sure that this is a priority. 


Manufacturing companies face a number of cyber threats. Understanding what these threats are and being aware of the evolution of cybersecurity, manufacturers can better protect their data, IP, and systems. Putting the right manufacturing cybersecurity safeguards in place can protect you from losing everything.

If you’re not sure where to start, sign up for a free cybersecurity assessment. We can help you determine where and how you can improve vulnerabilities in your system. 

To learn more about protecting you and your business from cybersecurity threats, check out our Ultimate Guide To Cybersecurity!

The Ultimate Guide To Cybersecurity

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