New Report Highlights Rising IT/OT Cybersecurity Risk for Manufacturers

Quick summary: Digitalization delivers growth but requires new approaches to cybersecurity protections

While critical to manufacturing’s growth, digitalization and smart factory initiatives create more connections and more opportunities for cyberattacks. Manufacturers Alliance Foundation and Fortinet have released “Advancing Digital Transformation in a Time of Unprecedented Cybersecurity Risk” to understand how manufacturers are addressing cyber risks at the intersection of information technologies (IT) and operational technologies (OT). This report is built upon a study released in 2020, which showcases how companies have shifted over the past three years. Additionally, the research scope grew to examine the state of collaboration between OT/IT teams and the best practices to enhance OT security. 

Key findings include:

  • The vast majority of companies have increased cybersecurity awareness as a business risk and acknowledge the need to speed up IT/OT collaboration.
  • 90% of respondents noted that they’re focused on implementing new solutions to address risks specifically affecting OT.
  • Manufacturing companies have advanced in maturity in security analysis, evaluation, monitoring, and assessment of their own operations and vendors.
  • Securing skilled talent and upskilling workers during an accelerated pace of change remains a challenge.
  • Balancing protection for the OT environment without hurting productivity was a consistent pain point.

“New technologies are allowing manufacturers to accelerate change on the factory floor in ways unimaginable even a decade ago. As we realize the benefits of digitalization, cybersecurity risks rise along with the pace of change,” said Stephen Gold, President & CEO, Manufacturers Alliance. “This research highlights where manufacturers are in their IT/OT cybersecurity journey and shares insights and practical lessons learned as companies enhance their cyber protections.” 

Another key aspect of the research is the headwinds facing manufacturing as they look to attract, retain, and upskill talent to fill positions in cybersecurity. The survey queried leaders on the effectiveness of breach responses in the past year. Seventy-eight percent said scarcity of talent and expertise was one the largest threats to their ability to respond. 

“While manufacturers have had tremendous success in advancing their technical sophistication, the convergence of IT and OT networks continues to open them up to greater risks. Today, the industry has reached an inflection point. The influx of connected systems, combined with the relative immaturity of their security solutions and the ongoing cybersecurity skills shortage, is pushing manufacturers directly into the crosshairs of cybercriminals,” said Richard Springer, Director of Marketing, OT Solutions at Fortinet. “Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom. Growing collaboration between IT and OT teams, increased participation in threat intelligence sharing programs, and vendors like Fortinet who are delivering cybersecurity solutions and services designed specifically for industrial networks are successfully combatting today’s expanding threat landscape.”

About Manufacturers Alliance Foundation 

Manufacturers Alliance Foundation is the 501(c)(3) partner of Manufacturers Alliance. The Alliance Foundation provides educational opportunities for the manufacturing community and its stakeholders through insights, events, and tools for today’s most critical business decisions. The Alliance Foundation focuses on talent, technology, digital transformation, and competitiveness. Learn more about the Alliance Foundation:

About Manufacturers Alliance

Manufacturers Alliance powers leaders. We bring together an unparalleled network of manufacturing executives to advance their careers, grow their companies, and support the whole community. We accomplish our mission through peer communities, education, and business insights on the topics that matter most to the sector. In our 90th year, we continue to drive the manufacturing community to be smarter, faster, and better. Learn more:

Source: Manufacturers Alliance Foundation