The manufacturing industry is becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks, as digital transformation and growing reliance on connected devices expose organizations to new threats. These cyberthreats pose significant risks to operational technology (OT) and critical infrastructure. The rise in ransomware and cyberattacks targeting endpoint devices in the OT environment makes endpoint resilience more important than ever for manufacturing organizations.
According to IBM Security’s X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, manufacturing was the most targeted sector for ransomware cyberattacks and the most extorted industry in 2022. A staggering 61% of incidents at OT-connected organizations last year occurred in the manufacturing industry. Furthermore, 36% of attacks on OT-connected organizations were ransomware, with many of these attacks exploiting endpoint device vulnerabilities. Attackers increased their reconnaissance of SCADA Modbus OT devices accessible via the internet by 2,204% between January and September 2021, further highlighting the growing threat to endpoint devices.
In addition, recent reports have revealed alarming statistics concerning the state of endpoint security in critical infrastructure organizations. IBM Security found that almost 80% of critical infrastructure organizations studied don’t adopt zero trust strategies, resulting in average breach costs rising to $5.4 million – a $1.17 million increase compared to those that do. Moreover, 28% of breaches amongst these organizations were ransomware or destructive attacks. These statistics underscore the need for a proactive approach to endpoint security in the manufacturing sector, focusing on endpoint resilience and effective security strategies.
To overcome these challenges and protect their critical infrastructure, manufacturing organizations need to adopt a proactive approach that involves monitoring the health of security applications, deploying endpoint detection and response tools, and educating their employees on best practices.
Challenges in Endpoint Management and Security
Endpoint management and security present various challenges for critical infrastructure organizations, particularly in the manufacturing sector. These challenges include:
- Large and diverse number of endpoints: Ranging from laptops and smartphones to smart meters and industrial control systems, endpoints are distributed across multiple locations and networks, making them difficult to monitor and control.
- Outdated or unsupported endpoints: Some endpoints may be outdated or unsupported, increasing their vulnerability to cyber threats.
- Risk to data, systems, and services: Hackers can exploit endpoint vulnerabilities to access sensitive information, disrupt operations, or cause physical damage.
- Lack of consistent security policies and standards: Critical infrastructure endpoints may not be subject to the same security policies and standards as the organization’s main network, due to their distribution across remote sites, field offices, or third-party vendors.
The Importance of Endpoint Resilience
Endpoint resilience is crucial for critical infrastructure security in the manufacturing sector. The concept of endpoint resilience involves the ability of endpoints to withstand cyberattacks and recover quickly from them, minimizing the impact on the organization’s operations and services.
Endpoint resilience can help protect organizations from various threats, such as ransomware, malware, or denial-of-service attacks. It can also help organizations reduce the costs and consequences of a breach. For example, endpoint resilience can enable organizations to remotely detect and respond to incidents, restore corrupted or deleted files or applications, and enforce security policies and compliance standards.
A study by Statista found that the global endpoint security market size is projected to reach US$19 billion in 2025, emphasizing the importance of endpoint resilience.
Torsten George, a cybersecurity expert, said, “When establishing visibility and security controls across endpoints, security professionals need to understand that each endpoint bears some or all responsibility for its own security.” This means that each endpoint device should have encryption, anti-virus, firewall, and application control software installed and updated regularly. This way, even if the network security is compromised, the endpoint device can still prevent or limit the damage caused by an attack.
Implementing Endpoint Resilience Strategies
Manufacturing organizations can implement endpoint resilience strategies by taking the following steps:
- Monitor the health of security applications on endpoints: Regularly check the status, performance, and configuration of security applications, and detect and resolve any issues or anomalies that may affect their functionality. Key aspects of monitoring include:
- Antivirus mode and engine version
- Presence and efficacy of encryption, firewall, endpoint detection and response, and multi-factor authentication software
- Compliance with security policies and regulatory standards
- Availability and response time of cloud storage or databases used by the endpoint device
- Deploy endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools: EDR solutions provide continuous monitoring, detection, investigation, and remediation of threats on endpoint devices. Implementing EDR tools can help organizations prevent, detect, and respond to cyberattacks more effectively.
- Regularly update and patch endpoint devices: Keep endpoint devices up-to-date with the latest security patches and software updates to minimize vulnerabilities and protect against emerging threats.
- Implement a zero trust security model: Assume that any endpoint or network could be compromised and adopt a “never trust, always verify” approach. This involves applying strict access controls, micro-segmentation, and continuous monitoring of endpoint devices.
- Educate employees on best practices: Train employees on the importance of endpoint security and provide them with the knowledge and tools necessary to protect their devices from cyber threats.
- Develop and enforce security policies and standards: Establish and consistently enforce organization-wide security policies and standards to ensure all endpoint devices adhere to the security requirements.
- Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA): MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide multiple forms of verification before accessing sensitive information or systems.
- Regularly assess and audit endpoint security: Conduct regular assessments and audits of endpoint security measures to identify vulnerabilities, evaluate the effectiveness of security controls, and ensure compliance with industry standards and regulations.
Securing the Future of Manufacturing with Endpoint Resilience
Manufacturing organizations face unprecedented challenges in managing and securing their endpoints, which are essential for their operations and services. By adopting a proactive approach that involves monitoring the health of security applications, deploying endpoint detection and response tools, and educating employees on best practices, these organizations can achieve endpoint resilience. This resilience is crucial for the security and reliability of critical infrastructure in the manufacturing sector, as it helps protect organizations’ data, systems, and customers from various threats, reduces the costs and consequences of a breach, and ensures the resilience of their critical infrastructure.