As the Manufacturing Leadership Council’s new poll on cybersecurity shows once again, manufacturers are expecting more cyberattacks against them in the future.

There are a number of reasons why companies are anticipating more frequent and more severe cyber attacks. Increasing connectivity in their operations and business ecosystems has brought a greater vulnerability to hacks, breaches, and outright attacks, setting expectations that as the connectivity trend continues un-abated, there will be more challenges to come.

Moreover, awareness and sensitivity to the issue of cybersecurity has been compounded by high-profile, highly-publicized incidents involving social media platforms such as Facebook. Watching Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg attempt to parry questions in Congressional hearings sends a chill down the spine of many corporate executives.

But perhaps the more practical question facing manufacturing executives is what to do about the cyber threat going forward as the wheels on the connectivity bus, particularly with the Internet of Things in mind, speed up. Inevitably, better defensive measures will require better, more thought-out strategies. And that’s where things can and will get more difficult and complicated.

In this issue, we present some ideas on how to better address the cyber threat. In “Are Companies Embracing the Cyber Challenge or Running for Cover?”, long-time Council member Anthony King, who was head of cybersecurity for Raytheon Missile Systems, warns that manufacturers have to get beyond “cyber noise” and develop formal business risk management processes to deal with the cyber issue.

In line with this thinking, Council member Torsten Welte of SAP argues, in “Building a Cyber-Resilient Organization”, that business-driven risk management strategies must be based on a holistic approach across the enterprise if they are going to be effective. And in “Is Cybersecurity the Weakest Link in Your Supply Chain?, authors Surya Kommareddy and Swapan Ghosh from Council member Oracle Corp. add that risk management programs must include a vendor/supplier component to mitigate risks in manufacturers’ supply chains.

The bottom line is that as the cybersecurity threat becomes broader and more sophisticated, so too must strategies to combat it. Winning this game of risk will require more boundary-spanning policies and procedures, better technology tools, and more people involved in the process.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends”.     M