A cyber makeover for APAC’s manufacturing and logistics

Digital transformation has revolutionised the way we live and conduct businesses, and this transformation has not spared APAC’s manufacturing and logistics industries. These industries are undergoing a seismic shift as businesses wholeheartedly embrace digital transformation to enhance efficiency, streamline operations, and meet the ever-increasing demands of their customers.

The impact of this transformation cannot be overstated, as it fundamentally reshapes the way these industries function and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

Manufacturers are implementing video analytics to improve safety, while warehouses are deploying robotics to enhance the accuracy of order picking and shipments. Most businesses today are either planning or executing their digital transformation strategy. Although the inherent benefits of digital transformation are often discussed, it also presents equally challenging cybersecurity risks.

The increasing use of connected devices and the collection of vast amounts of data, along with the rising sophistication of cyber criminals, make businesses more vulnerable to cyber attacks and data breaches. Therefore, prioritising operational technology (OT) security is imperative.

Manufacturers today recognise the importance of establishing a robust OT security infrastructure to safeguard sensitive data and systems, ensure operational continuity and reliability, and prevent unplanned downtime. According to IDC, by 2026, 40% of organisations will increase their use of Internet of Things (IoT) and OT cybersecurity solutions at the edge, thereby reducing OT cybersecurity breaches by half.

However, the increased utilisation of OT, which unlocks new communication and wireless channels directly connected to a company’s digital ecosystem, has made it a prime target for hackers. Moreover, due to the current lack of comprehensive cyber regulations, inadequate cybersecurity awareness, and a shortage of cyber-defence talent, businesses have become more vulnerable to attacks.

Hackers are increasingly focusing on infiltrating networks that are crucial for the industry’s modernisation and growth. These networks facilitate activities such as automated ordering, shipment tracking, and access to account information. Although these operations are mission-critical, they involve handling significant volumes of sensitive information. Unfortunately, the lack of stringent cyber-protection protocols makes these data sourcing channels highly insecure.

While regulators are beginning to adopt a more proactive approach by demanding improved security measures for company networks, organisations must also take the initiative to deploy more secure technologies and enforce higher standards to safeguard their most sensitive assets.

You can’t control what you don’t see

A company’s asset visibility is crucial. The key to business success lies in discovering all assets, identifying existing risks and gaps, and ensuring compliance.

In the manufacturing and logistics sectors, assets can encompass a variety of connected devices, software applications, and data repositories. However, many businesses are unaware of all their assets, making it challenging to identify potential security risks. After all, we cannot effectively control something if we are unaware of its existence or unable to observe it.

Taking it a step further, simply knowing that a device exists is insufficient. Once a business has discovered all its assets and gained a better understanding of its digital environment, it needs to identify and comprehend the potential risks and gaps associated with these assets.

Securing and protecting all connected devices from potential cyberthreats, understanding both IT and OT security requirements, and identifying the most significant vulnerabilities within their operations allow businesses to proactively mitigate any potential security risks in their digital environments.

For instance, when a prominent global passenger airline and cargo carrier adopted new connected technologies, including self-service kiosks, handheld scanners, and various monitoring sensors to streamline their transportation logistics, they quickly realised that they had surpassed their ability to track, monitor, and secure these devices.

This situation raised significant visibility concerns for the airline’s security team, as they lacked a clear understanding of all the devices under their control and the potential risks they posed to the business. They implemented a managed IoT and OT security service to address these challenges.

Lastly, businesses must ensure they stay updated with regulations and standards, adjusting their security protocols accordingly to maintain compliance.

The OT imperative: Building a strong industrial shield

Manufacturing remains one of the primary targets for OT industries, and this should raise concerns.

As previously discussed, OT security plays a vital role in maintaining the safety, reliability, and efficiency of industrial control systems in the manufacturing and logistics sector. The significance of OT security lies in its capacity to prevent disruptions in critical industrial processes, safeguard sensitive data, and ensure worker safety.

Without adequate security measures in place, the manufacturing and logistics industry may encounter severe repercussions, including operational downtime, production delays, revenue loss, and damage to brand reputation.

It is imperative for companies in the manufacturing and logistics sector to invest in OT security strategies and technologies. By doing so, they can protect their operations and assets, mitigate potential devastating consequences, and stay competitive in an increasingly challenging market.