Blackberry’s Manufacturing Cybersecurity Study has delivered a stark warning that outdated and unsupported legacy operational technologies (OT) are exposing substantial vulnerabilities for UK manufacturers facing escalating threats from nation-state attacks.
The survey of 250 manufacturing IT decision makers across the UK revealed that while many (35%) anticipate an elevated risk of cyberattack in 2023, three-quarters of respondents (69%) fear nation-state attacks on the sector and 64% are concerned about foreign governments spying on their facilities. At the same time, 69% say OT infrastructure is difficult to defend.
Shishir Singh, Chief Technology Officer, Cybersecurity at BlackBerry, said: “Global manufacturers are headed for stormy waters as nation states up the ante on surveillance and the risk of a cyber incident is high – and rising – yet the industry is hampered by a threat surface that is largely antiquated and difficult to defend. Over the last year, three cybersecurity trends significantly impacted OT and IoT infrastructure: ransomware attacks, phishing attacks, and third-party software vulnerabilities.”
“Cybersecurity has become a significant barrier to progress, and managers shackled by aging hardware and outdated operating systems are challenged to unify security across old and new to forge ahead with modernisation. With aged and isolated equipment, the truth is that it is difficult to put protection into these environments. But not impossible, and with a lightweight footprint and OS agnostic solution, protection can be extended to every eligible endpoint to mitigate this exposure across manufacturing infrastructure,” Singh continues.
BlackBerry’s research revealed that manufacturing IT decision-makers around the world – across the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Japan, and Australia – are predominantly concerned with malicious malware attacks (56%), followed by phishing attacks (49%) and unauthorised access by non-malicious insiders (45%). This may reflect that manufacturers are concerned with nation-state threats that seek to create disruption and unplanned downtime, rather than extort ransom payments.
The research also showed that 65% of manufacturing IT decision-makers believe the cost of a cyber breach to be $250,000 or less. Almost half (47%) of respondents estimate that business downtime would account for just one-tenth of that cost, while 63% point to cyber incidents resulting in a loss of customers or impacting supplier relationships (59%).
With unplanned downtime costs soaring due to global inflation and production lines running at a higher capacity, this contrasts with a recent report estimating the true average cost of a data breach in the industrial sector to be more than 16x higher at $4.24M.