In the manufacturing industry, many secondary business processes are outsourced, often to companies that cannot afford the necessary level of cybersecurity and data protection. Outsourcing therefore increases the vulnerability of manufacturers, and presents a threat that is beyond their control.

According to the Manufacturing Cybersecurity Threat Index published by Morphisec in June 2021, about 1 in 5 manufacturing companies was compromised in a successful attack. Nearly a quarter of the companies are attacked weekly, and more than a third are attacked every month; these numbers are believed to be conservative. While ransomware attacks are a concern, manufacturers are also at risk of direct attacks, such as malware designed to sabotage or destroy the control systems, servers and/or networks of their production facilities.

It should be noted that increased digitization in the manufacturing industry, often referred to as ‘Industry 4.0’, is expected to make it an even more attractive target in the future.

Verizon, in its 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, stated that 73% of attacks launched against the manufacturing sector were motivated by financial reasons, with the remaining 27% involving espionage. External forces were responsible for 75% of attacks, and internal forces for rest.

In February 2021, Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier was breached, with the confidential data of suppliers, customers and about 130 employees compromised.

The following month, the Canadian multinational IoT manufacturer Sierra Wireless suffered a ransomware attack and was forced to stop production at its manufacturing sites.

However, the largest ransomware attacks known to date were perpetrated by the cybercriminal group originating in Russia, REvil. The targeted companies were Acer, the Taiwanese computer giant (in March 2021) and computer manufacturer Quanta, one of Apple’s major business partners (April 2021). The requested ransom was $50 million from each of the above.

The same group is believed to have targeted JBS Foods, one of the largest meat processers in the world, in May 2021. The company paid a ransom of $11 million in bitcoin.

The same month, hackers stole 150 GB of data from Brenntag, a chemical distribution company, and demanded a ransom of $7.5 million. The actual payment made by the company totaled $4.4 million.

Such cyber attacks most often do not occur in a vacuum; the perpetrators leave signs pointing to an attack being planned – signs that ACID’s cluster of robots detect when monitoring a large number of diverse sources. ACID thus alerts to planned attacks – whether direct or through supply chains – allowing manufacturers to keep their intellectual property safe, and their operation running smoothly.