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Industry urged to boost cyber defence investment

07 September 2019

Over half of UK manufacturers have been the victim of cyber-crime, and one-third of those have suffered some financial loss or disruption to business as a result, according to a recently published report from Make UK.

The manufacturing sector is the fifth most targeted for attack in 2019, behind government systems and finance. Despite this, manufacturing ¬– which has 2.6 million employees, provides 10% of UK output and 70% of business research and development – remains among the least protected sector against cyber-crime in Britain. 

The new report, ‘Cyber-Security and Manufacturing – A Briefing for Manufacturers by Make UK’, has revealed the full extent of the threat across the sector from loss of data, theft of capital and intellectual property along with disruption to business and catastrophic impact on the trading reputation of a business. All expert opinion points to the fact that many more attacks will have gone undetected, with businesses woefully prepared to protect themselves against this ever-growing threat or to detect a breach after the event.

Cyber threat is increasingly a business-critical issue, with 41% of manufacturers reporting that they have already been asked by a customer to demonstrate or guarantee the robustness of their cyber security processes. Yet, when asked if they would be able to do this successfully, 31% of businesses said they would be unable to give those guarantees of cyber safety if asked.

Investment in the latest digital technologies is also being hampered, with many companies holding back from implementing the latest innovations for fear of increased exposure to cyber-attack. Some 35% of businesses admitted they are currently not fully investing in new digital processes even when not doing so will leave them unable to compete in an ever-changing and developing global marketplace.

 
Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation said: “No business can afford to ignore this issue any longer and too many are still burying their heads in the sand. This is a strategic threat; failing to get this right as a nation could cost the UK economy billions of pounds and put thousands of jobs at risk.”
 
Earlier this year, a cyber-attack brought a Norwegian aluminium producer to a standstill. The incident occurred in March when one of the world’s largest aluminium producer NC Hydro was forced to switch to manual operation when its digital systems were infiltrated and it became subject to a severe ransomware attack. In the end, the company had to halt production completely while the virus was isolated. Some factories were forced to use printed order lists as they could not access data digitally and it is believed that a ransomware virus known as LockerGoga was used which encrypts data and then demands a ransom to decrypt the files. The cost to the business was estimated at £32 million.


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