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Critical Manufactures and the Cyber Security Threat

Today’s world has never been smaller, with more of us connected at even higher Internet speeds than ever before. The Internet of Things has changed the way we interface with each other, revolutionized business processes, and altered the way in which countries and critical infrastructure are being operated. There is no doubt that this hyper-connectivity is a powerful development tool and opportunity for growth for governments, business, and individuals alike – a tool that must remain open and accessible despite the inherent risks. The challenge lies in our ability to balance and manage these risks for the foreseeable future.

The openness and ease of access of hyper-connectivity have lowered the barriers to entry for criminal entrepreneurs as they can participate in illicit activities from almost anywhere. This makes it difficult for law enforcement to link the crime to the perpetrator and jurisdiction.

Cybercrime affects society as a whole; not only threatens individuals’ privacy, but it may also potentially compromise a country’s critical infrastructure and its ability to provide essential services to its citizens. The globalized nature of economies also means that it is a threat at an international level. This highlights the need for action on four different levels: international, national, private sector, and individual. Individuals, too, hold some responsibility and must be aware of their own vulnerabilities and involvement in cyber hygiene.

Are manufacturers safe?

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber security Emergency Response Team, or ICS-CERT,97 incidents at critical manufacturers were investigatedduring its most-recent fiscal year. That category includes makers of vehicles and other types of transportation equipment as well as metals, machinery and electrical equipment producers – 295 cyber incidents, up 20% from the previous fiscal year.

The next most active sectors were energy, with 46 incidents, water, with 25, and transportation systems, with 23, according to the same report. However, there is no information about who was behind the attacks. Marty Edwards said at the S4 security conference in Miami: “I am very dismayed at the accessibility of some of these networks… They are just hanging right off the tubes”. He denied making any reference to any statistics of the extent of the increase.

Consequently, governments, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society must all mend ties and join their forces thus reinforcing collaboration and recognizing that cyber security is a shared responsibility.

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