The manufacturing sector is rapidly becoming digitalized, with 79% of companies having implemented smart technologies in their processing lines, 64% in their assembly lines, and 60% at end-of-line packaging, according to a March 2021 survey from the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI).

Using tech throughout the supply chain has introduced manufacturing companies to newfound levels of both efficiency and productivity. However, the packaging sector’s digitalization is moving faster than the pace of its cybersecurity adoption.

One of the most targeted industries – and one of the least prepared

Manufacturers are keen to adopt innovations that could streamline their processes but typically do not give enough consideration to cybersecurity. This results in vulnerable networks that are likely to be targets of intrusion and tampering from outside forces.

According to IBM, manufacturing is the second-most targeted industry by cyber criminals yet is one of the least prepared. Package assembling is often the last step of the manufacturing process, where automated machinery accounts for 60% of end-of-line packaging. According to the PMMI, in 2020, 88% of all small business owners in the manufacturing sector felt their businesses were vulnerable to a cyberattack. It also found that 28% of all cybersecurity breaches occurred in small businesses—and 10% of small businesses had to shut down permanently due to cybersecurity breaches. Thus, small packaging companies must adopt appropriate cybersecurity measures where possible, as they have proven to be frequent targets of attacks.

Increasing costs to manufacturers

Cybersecurity attacks are especially alarming as there are increasing costs to manufacturers that experience a cyberattack. The PMMI reported that in 2020, the average cost of a cyberattack was approximately $3.7 million before factoring in secondary impacts, including tarnished reputation and damaged customer loyalty. It often takes manufacturers a significant amount of time to identify, isolate, and resolve a cyberattack. The PMMI has noted that it took, on average, 280 days to identify and resolve a cyberattack in 2020. Therefore, packaging operations should make cybersecurity a crucial part of their digital transformation strategy to increase access controls and risk monitoring as the sector digitalizes.

Manufacturers need to secure their firms

Manufacturing companies need to consider partnering with cybersecurity specialists and vendors. Cybersecurity vendors have the necessary skills and products needed for cybersecurity prevention, detection, and response, and are able to provide visibility across the manufacturing value chain. The most successful manufacturing companies will be those with strong partnerships with cybersecurity vendors, which will protect them against the growing threat from multiple threat sources.

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By GlobalData