As rapid technological innovation sweeps across the manufacturing industry, cybersecurity has become a top priority. David Brousell, Vice President and Executive Director of the Manufacturing Leadership Council—the world’s first member-driven, global business leadership network dedicated to senior executives in the manufacturing industry—explains the importance of cybersecurity and what manufacturers are doing to combat global threats in the digital age.
Why is cybersecurity important for modern manufacturing?
Manufacturers are using cutting-edge digital technology to a greater degree than ever before. We’re putting sensors in equipment, digitizing supply chains and gathering data from customers to better the customer experience, to name just a few examples. The number of electronic connections we’re making is enormous—and the more you electronically link products and processes, the more vulnerable they become to cyberattacks.
What are the impacts of cyberattacks?
When we talk about cybersecurity, we’re not just talking about people trying to steal intellectual property. We’re also talking about attacks that target business operations, which can actually bring business to a halt. Manufacturers need to be able to guard against these attacks across the board in order to do their own innovative, cutting-edge work and to deliver for customers in the United States and around the world. That’s why manufacturers must invest in developing solutions that can stand strong against even the most sophisticated assault.
What are some of the challenges manufacturers face in cybersecurity?
The number one challenge is the increase in attacks. We do a lot of survey work among manufacturers of the Manufacturing Leadership Council, and the overwhelming majority of survey participants say they’re expecting more attacks in the year ahead. Just keeping up with the sheer volume of attacks is a big issue for manufacturing companies—large and small alike. This isn’t just an issue for multibillion-dollar enterprises. Cybersecurity is everyone’s concern.
What are manufacturers doing in the cybersecurity space to keep their work secure?
We’re taking a variety of actions. We’re continuing to invest in technology. We’re training people to understand best behaviors and best practices. And we’re trying to protect more and more on a systems level. For example, some companies are housing their information in the cloud because they feel that there are greater protections in a cloud environment than in a system on their own premises.
Most importantly, though, companies are adopting cybersecurity as a cultural discipline and making cybersecurity part of their business’ DNA and culture. Over many decades, manufacturers have made physical safety a well-honed science. Now we have to raise cybersecurity up to that level of safety if we’re going to bring it under control. We talk about how safety is everybody’s business—and now cybersecurity has to become everybody’s business, too.