Nearly half of British manufacturers hit by cyber-attack in the last year

A survey has found that nearly half of the UK's manufacturers (42 per cent) have been a victim of cyber crime over the last year.

Make UK found that over a quarter of respondents to its survey reported substantial financial loss as the result of an attack, with losses ranging from £50,000 to £250,000.

Businesses' exposure to cyber-security risks is increasing, with nearly 95 per cent saying cyber-security measures are necessary for their company, while two-thirds said the importance of cyber security has increased in the last 12 months.

Nevertheless, the survey found that the majority (54 per cent) of respondents decided not to take any further cyber-security action, despite the adoption of new technologies to boost production.

Cyber-security risks for any large firm range from simple employee error through to complex targeted attacks.  The top three cyber-security vulnerabilities were identified as maintaining legacy IT (45 per cent); a lack of cyber skills within the company (38 per cent), and providing access to third parties for monitoring and maintenance (33 per cent).

The research found that production stoppages were the most common result of a cyber attack (65 per cent), with reputational damage ranking second (43 per cent).

Broad moves toward what is known as Industry 4.0 further increase the important of cyber security to manufacturer operations. Industry 4.0 typically refers to increasing interconnectivity and smart automation within industrial practices and typically involves a greater use of IoT devices.

While these new processes can drive efficiencies, their importance in a production line leaves further attack vectors to be exploited.

Just over a third of respondents (37 per cent) said that concerns about cyber vulnerability have prevented the introduction of new connected technologies into their organisation, hampering potential productivity gains and holding companies back from growth.

Targeted attacks are the most common, with smaller companies often the most vulnerable - yet many offer no cyber-security training to staff.

Stephen Phipson, Make UK CEO, said: “Digitisation is revolutionising modern manufacturing and becoming increasingly important to drive competitiveness and innovation.

“While cost remains the main barrier to companies installing cyber protection, the need to increase the use of the latest technology makes mounting a defence against cyber threats essential. No business can afford to ignore this issue and while the increased awareness across the sector is encouraging, there is still much to be done.

“Every business is vulnerable and every business needs to take the necessary steps to protect themselves properly.”

The composition of cyber defence across UK industry is wide, with companies investing in antivirus software and firewalls to secure internet connections.

Very few companies - less than one per cent - report not having any technical mitigation at all in place to protect against unwanted invasion. Russia and China are now seen as the main cyber threat for UK manufacturers (75 per cent).

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