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Nearly half of manufacturers hit by cyber-crime

More than two fifths of UK manufacturers were targeted by cyber criminals over the last 12 months, with employee error the most common reason for a cyber attack, according to new research.

A national survey by Make UK and BlackBerry found that three quarters of victims had sufficient cyber protection in place to deal with their attack, but the remaining quarter suffered financial losses that ranged up to £250,000.

As businesses adopt more digital technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), the exposure to cyber security risks increases. Just under two thirds (63 per cent) of the SME manufacturers surveyed by Make UK said the importance of cyber security to their business had increased over the past year.

The resulting report shows that targeted attacks are the most common, with operational disruptions such as production stoppages the most frequent consequence, along with reputational damage.

Legacy IT software was found to be the biggest cyber risk, followed by a lack of cyber skills in the workforce and providing access to third parties for monitoring and maintenance of systems. Overall, employee error – such as inadvertently clicking on dangerous links or using insecure passwords – is the most common cause of a cyber attack.

Nearly two thirds of companies (62 per cent) said they now provide cyber security training to their employees. However, this drops to just 50 per cent for small manufacturers – despite evidence showing that cyber criminals are not averse to smaller targets, as Geoff Crossley, our Senior Manufacturing Advisor, explained:

“A cyber security ‘gap’ is emerging between those investing in their defences and those who are falling behind. As a result, cyber criminals are turning their attention to less secure, smaller organisations and individuals. 

“I know quite a few SMEs who have ended up paying criminals to release their data due to ransomware and many others who have lost valuable data. If you receive a lot of emails, use remote payments or regularly receive files and data from other organisations, consider yourself at high risk. You wouldn’t allow someone to bypass safety procedures on the shopfloor, so don’t allow it in the office.”


Our specialist Manufacturing Advisors can provide tailored support to help you identify cyber security threats and improve your processes. Get in touch today for a one-to-one diagnostic.

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