Industry 4.0 has revolutionized the manufacturing and industrial space by introducing new technologies, making it possible to enhance productivity, visibility, connectivity, and profitability like never before.
However, along with the technology, Industry 4.0 has also introduced plenty of new risks as well. Chief among these growing threats is the potential theft of your intellectual property (IP).
Connectivity Driving Risk
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the foundation upon which Industry 4.0 is built. The IIoT is a web of interconnected devices, enabling machine-to-machine communication, automation, and data analysis.
Because the IIoT collects massive volumes of rich data, it has become a natural target for cyberattacks. And when criminals do attack, they come looking for intellectual property.
According to a survey by Deloitte, 35 percent of manufacturing executives who were victimized by cyberattacks believed that believe that IP theft was the primary motive for the attackers. A 2017 report from Verizon puts this figure even higher — 90 percent of data stolen in manufacturing was intellectual property and R&D information.
Who Is Looking For Your IP?
In order to understand how to safeguard against IP theft, it helps to know who you need to guard against. In the manufacturing space, there are three groups that contribute to this risk:
- Hackers & Thieves: Your IP is valuable, and hackers and thieves want to exploit their value. Your information can be stolen and sold anonymously online, or it can be used as leverage for extortion.
- Your Competitors: A competitor looking to gain an edge could pose a threat to your organization. Instead of investing in their own R&D, they can borrow your IP and fast-track their process improvements and designs. They can also use your blueprints, pricing data, and other IP to gain an unfair advantage in the sales process.
- Current Employees: It happens more than you might think; employees illegally obtain confidential information, such as processes, designs, and financials, in order to sell them and make a personal profit.
What Can You Do?
To prevent a catastrophic situation caused by cybercrimes, stolen IP, or industrial espionage, companies should develop a multistep plan that prioritizes the value of data, determines the most critical and sensitive aspects of the business, and applies security measures accordingly.
In addition to using both traditional and advanced security software, companies can also implement segmented networks that section off the most valuable data, making it accessible to only a few trusted individuals.
Adopting blockchain into your supply chain is another way to safeguard against risks from outside of your organization. Other solutions include regularly performing insider threat prevention and detection audits, prohibiting the use of personal devices within the facility, educating employees on best cyber practices, and communicating regularly and meaningfully with vendors and suppliers to ensure that all links in the supply chain are enforcing high-level security initiatives.
Steer Clear Of Other Threats
IP theft is just one risk posed by the advent of Industry 4.0. Learn more about the risks you face in this new industrial landscape with our free ebook, The Six Biggest Risks Facing Your Manufacturing Business Today.
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