Cyber Threats Facing Manufacturing Companies

Cybersecurity in the manufacturing industry is critical in protecting sensitive data and intellectual property, maintaining operational continuity, and preventing financial losses. However, with the increased integration of technology in manufacturing processes, the industry has become a prime target for cyber attacks that can result in the loss of confidential information, disruption of production and supply chain, and damage to a company’s reputation. As a result, the manufacturing industry must take proactive measures to secure its systems and networks, including implementing robust security protocols, educating employees on cybersecurity best practices, and conducting regular security assessments. This article will detail the various cyber threats facing manufacturing companies.

The Number of Attacks Is Rising

As global manufacturing continues to digitize, the industry is becoming increasingly vulnerable to various cyber threats. The adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies such as IoT, AI, and automation has led to a more connected and digitized manufacturing environment, which has also increased the attack surface for cybercriminals. An outdated approach to digital security has seen an unprecedented rise in malicious actors looking to take advantage of weaknesses in the larger ecosystem. The manufacturing space has seen a 33% increase in cyber attacks over the last year, with 51% of companies reporting an attack on their cloud infrastructure over the past year.

Common Types of Cyber Attacks on the Manufacturing Industry

While hackers pose other cybersecurity risks, here are some of the most common and most destructive forms of cyber attacks on manufacturing companies:


Phishing is a type of cyber attack that uses fraudulent emails, text messages, or phone calls to trick the recipient into providing sensitive information, such as login credentials, financial information, or personal details. The attackers often impersonate a legitimate organization, such as a bank, a government agency, or a company, and use social engineering techniques to convince the victim to disclose the requested information. The goal of a phisher is to steal sensitive information, gain access to a company’s network, or install malware on the victim’s computer.


Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a victim’s files, making them inaccessible, and demands payment, usually in the form of cryptocurrency, in exchange for the decryption key. Once the malware has encrypted the files, it will typically display a message on the victim’s computer informing them of the attack and providing instructions for making payment. The goal of a ransomware attack is to extort money from the victim. Some of the most common ways ransomware is delivered include via email attachments, malicious links in phishing emails, or software vulnerabilities. Ransomware can cause significant disruptions to a business, and in some cases, the victim may have to pay the ransom to regain access to their data.

Equipment Sabotage

Equipment sabotage from a cyber attack on a manufacturing company refers to the intentional alteration or destruction of the manufacturing company’s equipment or systems through malicious software or unauthorized access. This can include anything from shutting down production lines to causing physical damage to machinery or infrastructure. The goal of equipment sabotage is typically to disrupt operations and cause harm to the manufacturing company.

IP Theft

IP theft refers to the unauthorized acquisition, use, or disclosure of the manufacturing company’s intellectual property through malicious software or unauthorized access to the company’s network or systems. This can include stealing information on product designs, manufacturing processes, and supply chain information. This type of IP theft can significantly impact the manufacturing company’s competitiveness, as it could allow competitors to replicate their products or processes or disrupt the production and supply chain. Additionally, it could also put the company in legal trouble if they are found to have stolen IP from other companies or organizations.

Supply Chain Attack

Supply chain attacks on a manufacturing company refer to cyber attacks that target the various suppliers, partners, and vendors that a manufacturing company relies on to acquire materials, components, and other goods required to produce their products. These attacks can occur at different stages of the supply chain and significantly impact the manufacturing company’s operations and bottom line.

For example, an attacker could target a supplier that provides a key component for the manufacturing company’s products. By compromising the supplier’s systems, the attacker could disrupt production or cause a delay in the delivery of the component, resulting in production downtime and lost revenue for the manufacturing company.

An attacker could also target the manufacturing company’s logistics and transportation partners. By compromising their systems, the attacker could disrupt the delivery of materials and finished goods, causing delays and additional costs for the manufacturing company.

Another example of a supply chain attack is a “pre-installed malware” attack, where the attacker will target a third-party component provider and introduce malware into the component the manufacturing company will use, compromising the final product without being noticed.

Overall, supply chain attacks can severely impact a manufacturing company’s operations, revenue, and reputation and pose a risk for the end-users of the final product.

Internal Breach

An internal cybersecurity breach in a manufacturing company refers to unauthorized access or malicious activity within the company’s network or systems that originate from within the organization. This type of breach can be caused by a variety of factors, such as:

  • An employee, contractor, or vendor intentionally or unintentionally exposing the company’s systems to a cyber-attack.
  • An employee or contractor stealing sensitive data or engaging in other malicious activities.
  • A system administrator or IT staff member misconfiguring systems or networks.
  • A phishing attack or other type of social engineering scheme that tricks an employee into giving away sensitive information or installing malware on the company’s systems.

Internal cybersecurity breaches can have serious consequences for a manufacturing company, leading to the loss of sensitive data, financial losses, and damage to the company’s reputation. Additionally, internal breaches may be harder to detect and prevent since the attacker is already inside the company’s perimeter.

Nation-State Attacks

A nation-state attack on a manufacturing company refers to cyber attacks that are believed to be sponsored or carried out by a foreign government or state-sponsored actors. These types of attacks are typically highly sophisticated and well-funded. They are often targeted at specific companies or industries to steal sensitive information, disrupt operations, or gain a strategic advantage.

In the case of a manufacturing company, nation-state attackers may target the company’s intellectual property, trade secrets, and other sensitive information to gain a competitive edge in the market or steal technology for their own use. Nation-state attackers may also target the company’s infrastructure and systems to disrupt production or cause damage to the company’s reputation.

Nation-state attacks can be difficult to detect and prevent, as the attackers often use advanced tactics and techniques to evade detection. Additionally, the attackers may have significant resources at their disposal, making it difficult for a manufacturing company to defend against them.

It’s worth noting that the manufacturing industry is a prime target for nation-state attackers because of the large number of companies involved in defense, aerospace, and high-tech manufacturing, that hold sensitive information. The potential disruption to the supply chain and production could cause significant consequences.

Don’t Be a Victim

In conclusion, manufacturing companies are facing a growing threat from cyber attacks, which can severely impact their operations, revenue, and reputation. It’s essential for manufacturing companies to implement sophisticated and proactive cybersecurity practices to protect their networks, systems, and sensitive information from cyber threats. This includes implementing robust network security measures, access control mechanisms, and incident response plans. Additionally, it’s also important for manufacturing companies to stay informed about the latest cyber threats and trends and to regularly review and update their cybersecurity policies and procedures. By taking a proactive and comprehensive approach to cybersecurity, manufacturing companies can better protect themselves and their customers from the growing threat of cyber attacks.