cybersecurity

Leading technology companies in the world have experienced and countered cyber-attacks since the advent of the internet, eventually leading to the inception of cybersecurity market.

Today, cybercrimes are measured among the most active and loss inducing offences being witnessed globally, enveloping segments such as commercial, power grid failures, banking, transport as well as securities.

The increased dependency on connected technology and cheaper, faster access to telecommunication services has only helped the cause of nuisances, whether it is a single criminal or a group of hackers.

Fortunately, while IT giants and small software firms have focused on developing more efficient and powerful technologies like cloud, artificial intelligence and data analytics tools, they have simultaneously worked towards securing their products and services with the help of numerous partners and hardware providers.

The cybersecurity industry has grown at a tremendous rate over the last two decades, with software firms like IBM, Symantec, RSA Security, Oracle Corp., FireEye, Microsoft and several others leading the competitive landscape. Also, companies such as Intel and Cisco have in turn emerged as key hardware suppliers for critical security solutions.

A notable characteristic of the industry is its expanding base of potential victims, as a large amount of cybercriminals are shifting from their traditional software and financial services targets to manufacturing and transportation companies.

With consistent advancements as part of the industry 4.0 revolution creating more opportunities for cybercrime across all business sectors, Global Market Insights, Inc. has projected that worldwide, the cybersecurity market valuation will surpass $300 billion by the year 2024.

The fast-paced adoption of autonomous operations and digitisation of business processes has certainly escalated the competitiveness between companies, but also increased the risk of corporate espionage and data-related cyberattacks.

How can the manufacturing industry shape the global cybersecurity market trends?

Factors accountable for cyber risks in manufacturing

For sustaining their market share and cost-competitiveness, manufacturing companies have adopted the latest design, networking and communication technologies to reduce labor costs, minimise human errors and speed up production times.

However, this significant increase in process efficiency and accuracy comes with several risks, especially data breaches and line disruption.

According to a survey of the manufacturing industry revealed by Cisco in 2018, almost 53% of cyberattacks had resulted in a loss of over $500,000.

These damages included loss of customers, earnings, cash reserves, along with other factors. A separate industry survey had also stated that 30% of the data breaches targeting manufacturing firms that year were aimed at stealing intellectual property.

In essence, the further an enterprise grows, or a business vertical develops, the bigger a security risk it poses with regard to its operations, data and customers.

Another major factor influencing the choice of criminals to target a manufacturing establishment is that most of the IT firms, banks and government agencies have already protected themselves with strong cybersecurity solutions.

Manufacturers are not always aware of the threats lingering over them, even though the growth of IIoT devices and their application is generating enormous quantity valuable corporate and business information every day.

Consequently, attackers seem to be frequently sizing up any promising production sites with low cybersecurity levels for determining their would-be prey.

Prospective areas for cyberattacks in manufacturing

Internal collaboration and external communications form a vital part of the daily workings at a production facility. Sending and receiving information throughout an automated manufacturing line and supply chain warrants a central data storage system, either on-premises or in the cloud.

Financial transactions between a company, its vendors and customers create valuable data and can also contain confidential details. A large company may also have its business plans, product launch details and other competitive information on its servers, attracting perpetrators of corporate espionage. Separately, the increased deployment of robots for production can also cause a probable risk, since external control of these systems can lead to disruption in the process.

Elaborating on the risks associated with process control, many industries are attempting to completely automate their sites, requiring minimum intervention from human workers.

This entails remote control of facilities and machines, presenting a considerably lucrative target for cybercriminals. The cybersecurity market can be expected to cater to numerous companies who wish to secure their process controls.

Rising adoption of artificial intelligence for analysing data and lowering overall costs further promises a novel application area for the industry. Intellectual property, as of now, remains a primary area of concern for manufacturers and their clients.

Consider a scenario where a technology giant, such as Apple or Samsung, has a vast range of electronic products which are unique and extremely competitive. Some of these firms have facilities of their own, while other utilize third party manufacturing contractors, like Foxconn, to produce their goods.

These establishments are always having a threat from competitors and counterfeiters who wish to steal their designs or any crucial production plans. Undoubtedly, safeguarding this information to protect their product integrity and future profitability will be of the utmost importance, boosting revenue for the cybersecurity industry.

Future opportunities for the cybersecurity market contenders

Albeit the rapid advancement in security software and hardware segments, the cost of installing an enterprise wide cybersecurity network could be quite large and is proportional to its annual revenues, number of employees and external collaborators.

Seemingly difficult to penetrate, the cybersecurity industry still holds immense potential for existing players and new entrants to cement their place in niche or specialized business domains. It must be noted that a significant portion of these prospects arise from the financial capabilities of manufacturing firms.

As of 2018, nearly two-thirds of manufacturers in Germany had been a victim of cyberattacks, with the total cumulative losses exceeding $50 billion. It was estimated that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) were the most vulnerable to these attacks, and have become a focal point for hackers.

While the global automakers, appliance and parts manufactures as well as chemical companies based in Germany could easily spend millions on cybersecurity alone, the same cannot be the case for SMEs that already have limited resources. The same is true for business all over the world, which suggests a broad range of possibilities for cybersecurity firms to win over new SME customers. One factor the industry participants need to ensure is that their services and products are up-to-date and meet the ever-changing security challenges.

In this era, skilled hackers develop solutions to bypass security measures faster than ever. This would also bring in vast opportunities for companies providing cybersecurity to build more innovative and reliable security products, making it harder for cybercriminals to keep up. Additionally, the advancement of mobile connectivity, blockchain technology and vehicle automation will offer substantial growth avenues for the global cybersecurity industry to leverage the expansive knowledge base available and explore a host of application segments.