Manufacturing doesn't always cross people's minds when they think of frequent victims of cyber attacks, but most manufacturing operations are small and medium-sized businesses. Organizations of those sizes have been shown to represent a large portion of attack victims, and additional research has shown that over 90% of small-to-medium-sized companies employ no form of cybersecurity whatsoever. Furthermore, Australian research ranked manufacturing concerns as one of the top ten most frequently targeted industries in that country for the period of July 2021-June 2022.
Deploying just a few cybersecurity basics for pallet companies could be the difference between a substantial data breach and cybercriminals moving on to look for an easier mark. Security measures don't have to be overly complicated to be successful either. Keeping your systems secure can be accomplished with some well thought out changes to your networks, and more importantly, establishing the shift in thinking required to create a culture of security at your place of business.
For pallet manufacturers, some of the most common cyber threats are going to be ransomware attacks, social engineering attacks, and compromised devices. All of these threats can be related or independent of one another. A social engineering attack may lead to the installation of malware that culminates in a ransomware attack. Similarly, a compromised internet-connected manufacturing device could be the point through which hackers break into your operating systems, start accessing data, and exfiltrate sensitive information.
One of the more unique security vulnerabilities for manufacturing enterprises is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). In a quest to drive profits by seeking out actionable data for industrial improvements, developers have focused on analyzing information from internet connected devices of all types. These machines were likely not designed with security in mind and may even be connected to legacy operational technology networks with equally poor security measures. This variety of potential attack vectors is the very reason why we say that it's imperative that you create a culture of security amongst your staff, and it's something that will come up repeatedly once we break down some essential cybersecurity basics for pallet companies.
Cybersecurity basics for some pallet companies can seem like a tall order, but these best practices are geared toward those without technical expertise. Data protection and business continuity are the two main goals, and these steps can either be completed by in-house staff or outsourced to a cybersecurity vendor.
Human error accounts for more than half of all cyber attacks, and yet some companies still put more thought into pallet business names than they do into cybersecurity training. You need to make sure that your personnel know the warning signs of phishing emails and similar social engineering scams as well as major indicators of suspicious activity within operating systems. This should be accomplished by both formal training and periodic reminders like emails or break room posters.
Develop and keep current a cyber incident response plan. This should include current contact information for important positions like public relations, IT security, vendors, and guidelines on when they should all be contacted. The focus of this plan should be on rapid containment and business continuity.
One of the best ways to protect your business is to implement strong password policies. Each device should require login credentials to access, and every separate system should also have its own unique set of credentials. Passwords must be different for each system, and they should include a mixture of capital letters, lowercase letters, and special characters, and they should not include common words. In fact, passphrases are significantly more secure than passwords and substantially increase the time needed to brute force them.
Related to implementing strong passwords but worthy of its own subsection, we highly recommend providing your employees with a password management application or password vault. They securely store all of your passwords with encryption as well as increase ease of use, and some of the better programs have browser plugins and password generation included. There are even many free applications out there that offer some of these features.
In addition to those password requirements, multi factor authentication should be standard for each network login. Whether you use emailed codes, text messages, or even an authenticator application, the important part is that you are taking an extra step to confirm the identity of whoever is accessing data instead of blindly allowing them in off a password alone.
At least daily, you should have all of your data backed up and stored separately from your operating systems. Whether these backups are stored offline or in a cloud-based storage solution, the important thing is that there is a gap between your network and the backup data. This allows you to restore your systems should a ransomware attack lead to your systems being compromised and encrypted. When you're looking at a loss of only a few hours of information, the temptation to pay a ransom will be much less.
One of the most impactful security measures is something that is free and that you can fully automate. You have to ensure that all of your software is updated and patches are installed. This helps to close known security vulnerabilities in those programs as soon as fixes are pushed out by the developers, and updated applications, operating systems, and other software are less likely to be breached if they are current.
Any place that touches sensitive information should be encrypted. That includes devices, servers, network attached storage, and anything else you can imagine. If encryption wasn't effective, then cybercriminals wouldn't be harnessing it for their own nefarious purposes like in ransomware attacks. Encryption can change something like a lost or stolen device into a minor inconvenience when it could have been the beginning of a major cyber incident.
Small businesses are already starting behind the rest of the pack. It's more challenging to break into an industry, raise capital, and accomplish numerous other tasks than it can be for medium and large corporations. At Pallet Company Marketing, we understand that. In fact, we embrace it. It's because of those challenges that we can harness the unique drive of small business owners and leverage social media, search engine optimization, and other digital marketing tools to drive lead generation, sales, and more. We specialize in the pallet industry and offer an array of software solutions and other products to help you punch above your weight. Let us show you why review sites are crucial for pallet manufacturers.