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Cybersecurity in Manufacturing: Managing Risk at Scale

How a platform approach to security can help an industry undergoing rapid digital transformation


Digital transformation has swept the globe throughout the pandemic. Few industries seem as ready to embrace technology change as manufacturing, where 95% of leaders last year dubbed IT modernization “essential” to business success. However, while the prospect of Industry 4.0 could drive major improvements in productivity and profits, it also exposes the same organizations to spiraling cyber risk.

Attacks on global manufacturers spiked 300% year-on-year, according to one 2021 NTT study. With threats focused on compromising endpoint assets, it’s here that security teams must turn their attention. Tom Molden, Tanium’s manufacturing CIO, explains in a video why choosing a single, unified platform delivers visibility and control at speed and scale.

What cybersecurity risks do manufacturers face?

Historically, IT and operational technology (OT) environments have been managed separately in manufacturing organizations. This has to an extent helped to protect poorly secured legacy systems. The bad news is that, as we see rapid convergence of IT and OT, this “security by obscurity” approach no longer works. Industrial Control Systems (ICS), for example, are increasingly connected to the internet and related IT systems. That makes them easier to manage but also increases the exposure to remote attacks.

It’s a major challenge in an industry where maintenance windows for critical systems can be extremely tight, reducing the time security teams have to test and deploy crucial patches. One 2020 study claimed that manufacturing sector organizations take twice as long to fix vulnerabilities as companies in other verticals. Among the biggest risks to industry players are ransomware outages that could delay production, and the loss of sensitive IP.

Manufacturers face additional cybersecurity challenges

Supply chain risks

C-suites across the globe have seen threat actors increasingly looking to third parties as a potential steppingstone into their organization and are rightly concerned. One study last year claimed that nearly a fifth of organizations hit by the Sunburst SolarWinds backdoor were from the manufacturing sector.

Regulatory compliance

New regulatory compliance standards are coming down the track. These will require manufacturers to demonstrate end-to-end governance and controls across the whole value chain—from supply base, through product development and manufacturing, to go-to-market, and beyond. The automotive industry could be hit particularly hard.

How Tanium can help

Tackling multi-faceted cyber risk of this sort requires manufacturers to think beyond traditional endpoint security approaches. The Tanium platform offers a highly effective way to do so with:

A unified platform with which to solve multiple endpoint management and security challenges—from asset discovery and inventory to threat hunting, and risk and compliance management. The industry is flooded with point solutions. However, they only add cost and complexity to security and operations by creating critical visibility gaps for the bad guys to exploit. The only way to achieve the scale manufacturers require is by centralizing capabilities on a single platform.

Visibility, control and speed stem from the unique Tanium architecture. It delivers continuous and comprehensive insight into all endpoint assets, and the power to take action to remediate rapidly at scale. With accurate, up-to-date data in the CMDB and the ability to patch in minutes and hours rather than days and weeks, manufacturers have peace of mind their most valuable assets are always protected.

Significant cost and resource savings, as noted in a recently published Forrester Total Economic Impact™ of Tanium study.

The findings revealed that tool consolidation savings in endpoint identification, management, and security could top $2.4m over three years as averaged across surveyed customers. The study also highlights that full-time employee (FTE) savings could reach $1.2m over the same period, as organizations need fewer FTEs to manage environments using Tanium. With IT teams focused on managing operations rather than dealing with tools and chasing data, manufacturers can unleash productivity and drive top-line business benefits.

Manufacturing IT bosses must reprioritize as threat actors increasingly turn their attention on the sector and regulatory pressures and supply chain add to IT complexity. In this context, a platform approach is the only way for the industry to successfully manage business risk at scale.

Learn more about the cost savings and business benefits enabled by the Tanium platform by downloading The Forrester Consulting Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) study commissioned by Tanium.

Tanium Staff

Tanium’s village of experts co-writes as Tanium Staff, sharing their lens on security, IT operations, and other relevant topics across the business and cybersphere.

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