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Manufacturing on the Cyber Frontlines: Enhancing Cybersecurity on the Factory Floor

Manufacturing on the Cyber Frontlines: Enhancing Cybersecurity on the Factory Floor

By Berardino Baratta, CEO, MxD

Manufacturing in the United States is changing. Today’s factory floors are a far cry from those we saw in 1980s movies – dark, hostile environments with sparks flying – but are instead cutting-edge hubs of innovation, where our future is being forged right in front of our eyes.

At the heart of this shift is a commitment to modernization, digitization, and connected supply chains. This has become instrumental in driving success, but it also has made manufacturing companies increasingly susceptible to cyber-attacks. And just as we see change in the manufacturing sector, these attacks are constantly evolving, making it crucial for manufacturers to develop future-proof cyber skills to safeguard their assets, intellectual property, and sensitive information.

A staggering 25% of cyber-attacks in the United States specifically target the manufacturing sector, making it the most-attacked sector for the second year in a row. To tackle this growing threat, MxD is at the forefront of driving digital adoption and resilience in U.S. manufacturing for the 21st century.

In 2022, the average cost of a ransomware attack in the United States exceeded $4.5 million. While the benefits of connectivity outweigh the potential risks, addressing operational technology cybersecurity can be overwhelming for small- and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs). A significant majority (86%) of cybersecurity threats directed at the manufacturing sector are targeted rather than opportunistic, making the manufacturing industry the most attacked industry. Of these breaches, nearly half are related to intellectual property theft, which is critical considering that U.S. manufacturers drive over three-quarters of all private-sector research and development in the country. In fact, the manufacturing industry drives more innovation than any other sector.

In response to the escalating cyber-attacks, MxD has strategically invested in a portfolio of nearly 170 research, development, and demonstration projects. These projects, carried out in collaboration with partners, members, academic researchers, startups, and the federal government, have the potential to make a considerable impact on the commercial space.

MxD also offers various resources, both in the digital and cybersecurity realms, such as the MxD Cyber Marketplace. This platform provides user-friendly cybersecurity assessments to enable companies to understand and bolster their own cybersecurity posture. Additionally, MxD provides the Playbook for CMMC 2.0, a comprehensive guide to meeting the first level of Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification compliance, which is designed to protect the sensitive unclassified information that is shared by the Department of Defense with its contractors.

As with digital manufacturing generally, cybersecurity requires skilled personnel to reach its full potential. MxD has developed The Hiring Guide: Cybersecurity in Manufacturing, aimed at assisting U.S. manufacturers in fortifying their factory environments by recommending targeted training programs to upskill workers for the future of cybersecurity.

Going digital is no longer a choice but a necessity for propelling the manufacturing industry forward. In today’s fast-paced world, communication is instant, and results are expected promptly. Leveraging the agility and speed of digital connectivity, the digital thread increases efficiency and productivity within enterprises. This seamless integration enables the widespread implementation of improvements, fueling advancement across the entire manufacturing enterprise. MxD’s resources play a pivotal role in integrating these efficiencies, empowering factories for the future.

The United States is at the global leading edge of intelligent and efficient advanced manufacturing – and is supported by a vast network of supply chains that stretch worldwide. To further fortify the position of U.S. manufacturing companies, MxD has played a crucial role in supporting projects, such as a collaboration led by Software AG aimed at building a supply chain risk alert system. This system functions as an early warning system, alerting manufacturers of potential delays caused by emergencies, adverse weather conditions, or natural disasters. MxD will continue to fund projects and support business to create cyber-secure supply chains for U.S. manufacturing.

About the Author

Manufacturing on the Cyber Frontlines: Enhancing Cybersecurity on the Factory FloorBerardino Baratta is an accomplished leader in technology and advancing manufacturing, with more than 25 years of experience in the industry. As the CEO of MxD, the digital manufacturing and cybersecurity institute, Berardino works with the U.S. Department of Defense and a nearly 300-member ecosystem to drive economic prosperity and support national security by increasing U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. Through MxD’s diverse array of projects and partnerships, Berardino oversees critical efforts to enhance digital readiness and cybersecurity across the manufacturing sector, prepare the workforce for the advanced manufacturing jobs of the future, and ensure resilient and secure supply chains in an era of increased geopolitical disruption.

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