29 June 2023

Keeping Manufacturing Sector OT Lines Safe with SOCaaS


The digital revolution in the manufacturing sector

Until recently, most OT (operational technology) hardware and software worked in silos. Each platform was isolated from another, and the data coming from the tools were stored in different places as well, so the number of security incidents was minimal. 


Digital transformation changed all of this – now, virtually all OT platforms and industrial equipment are integrated into one interconnected OT network. 


Bringing their entire infrastructure together did give manufacturers plenty of benefits:  

  • The machines can now be monitored and accessed remotely, helping manufacturers to manage them from a distance.
  • Automation can handle several repetitive, dangerous, or time-consuming tasks for the manufacturers, such as gathering performance data 
  • Thanks to real-time insights, manufacturers can quickly notice any production bottlenecks and resolve them immediately
  • The data inside each system is automatically updated and synchronized, enabling manufacturers to plan, organize and control their production processes more efficiently 


Unfortunately, all those benefits also came together with several cybersecurity threats – for which many manufacturing facilities weren’t prepared. 


Consequences of the cyberattacks on the manufacturing industry

To restore their OT lines after a successful ransomware attack, manufacturers pay, on average, over $2 million in ransom. 61% of manufacturing and production businesses also reported an increase in cyberattacks in 2022 compared to the previous year.


And yet Barracuda found that only 24% of manufacturing firms have completed their OT security projects. 


Looking at how complex the modern production lines are and how costly a single hour of downtime can be, it isn’t exactly that surprising that manufacturers are pushing aside cybersecurity.  


Fortifying their security across their entire OT lines would require:

  • Finding and hiring cybersecurity experts,
  • Replacing legacy technology,
  • Remaking their OT lines,
  • Production downtime, etc.


Neglecting cybersecurity makes the OT lines an easy target for criminals though – something threat actors regularly exploit. And for manufacturers, the consequences of an attack can be especially dire.


Equipment and product damage

With a successful attack, threat actors can gain access to OT systems – and then remotely control the machines. For example, they can manipulate essential machine parameters and cause the machines to damage products on the production line. Even worse, they could cause the machine to malfunction or even entirely stop working- until they are paid the ransom.


Threatening workers’ safety

Technological advancement also helped make the production site much safer for workers. Nowadays, most of the dangerous tasks are given to robots as they can work in extreme temperatures or with toxic materials, and it won’t impact their performance at all. Automated monitoring platforms meanwhile can send an alert whenever they notice a machine is malfunctioning or that shop floor conditions became unhealthy.  


What could the criminals do if they took over the systems controlling those? By tampering with the programs, they could, for example, cause the machines to behave unpredictably and cause injuries or even fatal accidents on the worksite. Shutting down the monitoring tools meanwhile could force the manufacturers to temporarily close down the shop floor or even the entire factory. 


Intellectual property theft

Insider threats and intellectual property theft have plagued the manufacturing industry for decades. Now when the sensitive data that was once stored in paper documents is mainly kept inside online databases though, the problem has grown tenfold. 


After accessing the systems, hackers only need a few minutes to copy and share sensitive data, so the breach often goes unnoticed. The manufacturing facility owners often learn about the leak only after their blueprints or financial data are already on the dark web. 


One attack can impact several systems

As OT systems are now interconnected, there’s also the risk that an attack on one line can spread and affect several other systems or networks, even across multiple locations. 


Toyota Motors faced such a situation in February 2022. After one of their essential supply chain partners was hit by a cyberattack, 28 of their production lines across 14 plants in Japan have been disrupted for an entire day. In 2023, a large semiconductor industry supplier, Applied Materials, also suffered from the consequences of a ransomware attack on one of their vendors. As their “upcoming shipments” have been disrupted, the company estimated they would lose $250 million in the next quarter.


That shows that criminals can easily turn a single attack into a widespread one – with disastrous results for not only the targeted facility but also their suppliers and partners.


What can SOC teams do to help manufacturer facilities secure their OT infrastructure?

Having a dedicated Security Operation Center (SOC) team is currently one of the best ways to secure business infrastructure from cyber threats – and that includes OT lines as well. 


A security operations center, or SOC, is a team of IT security professionals that protects an organization by monitoring, detecting, analyzing, and mitigating cyber threats. And since they work round the clock, they can spot any new vulnerabilities or signs of incoming attacks and resolve those before they can cause any damage. 


The SOC team also knows how to stop the attacks that are already happening and minimize the damage they can cause. By swiftly reacting to the breach, investigating the cause, and then containing the incident, they can protect other systems from being compromised and also restore the affected parts faster.  


Making OT lines more resilient with SOCaaS solutions

Hiring skilled cybersecurity professionals, especially those with experience in securing OT lines and industrial equipment, might be a challenge. Even if businesses find a cybersecurity expert with the necessary skills, the costs of hiring and retaining even one of them in-house might be well above their budget.   


For example, an average salary of a cyber threat analyst in the manufacturing industry is $85,872, while a cybersecurity manager earns $148,119 per year.


This is where SOCaaS comes into play. 


Key Features of SOCaaS for Manufacturing Sector OT Lines

SOCaaS is a comprehensive security solution that combines technology, processes, and human expertise to establish a virtual Security Operations Center (SOC). In simpler words, it’s just like you would have a full-fledged cybersecurity team working for your business – with the difference that the team works remotely rather than in-house. 


Setting up a cybersecurity team via SOCaaS service providers also takes far less time than building one from scratch:


  • There’s no need to spend time on recruitment, interviewing, and onboarding newly hired cybersecurity specialists. Instead, the SOCaaS team can start their work right after discussing with each organization their needs and security requirements.
  • Manufacturers can rely on the service provider’s security technology and infrastructure rather than develop their own, significantly lowering cybersecurity expenses.


These platforms also come with various cybersecurity features through which businesses can visibly strengthen their OT lines. Let’s take a look at some of the key features:


Vulnerability management and patching

Keeping OT systems and tools up to date with the latest security patches is essential for keeping them protected from vulnerability exploits. With how many devices, platforms, and networks a given facility might use though, updating all of them manually might not be an option. SOCaaS team can take over the task as well and regularly scan the entire infrastructure for vulnerabilities that need to be patched and then apply the patches themselves, to harden the systems. 


Log analysis and forensic investigation

SOCaaS solutions come with comprehensive log analysis capabilities, with which security analysts can review system logs for any suspicious activity or incidents. This makes it easier for them to spot any potential threats to the OT lines and prevent those from affecting the systems. 


Having detailed logs will also be invaluable for the eventual forensic investigation stages, helping them pinpoint the root cause of the cyberattack. 


User and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) for anomaly detection

Most SOCaaS platforms also come with User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA), through which they can monitor and gather data on how a user or device interacts with the OT systems. Each user activity is then compared against the profile created from the data. If they behave differently than they usually do (for example, someone attempts to copy financial data using an employee’s account), the platform can then alert the security team about a potential insider threat or compromised account. 


That way, the feature can prevent criminals from using compromised accounts and stop disgruntled employees from, for example, copying customer databases.  


Compliance monitoring

Manufacturers can also rely on the SOCaaS team when complying with various manufacturing regulations and data privacy laws. For example, the cybersecurity team can perform regular audits and prepare compliance reports for authorities. 


SOC teams can also help you become and stay compliant if your facility is still preparing for GDPR, NIS2, or ISO 27001 compliance certification. 


How can our CyberDefender enhance manufacturing OT lines’ security and resilience?

Are you worried about the security of your OT lines, but building a cybersecurity team from scratch seems out of reach? Then, how about CyberDefender SOCaaS solution lends you a hand? After implementing the platform, you will gain access to a comprehensive suite of advanced security measures that can be tailored to your manufacturing facility requirements as needed. 


And with our cybersecurity expert team safeguarding your network, you can rest assured that they won’t allow anyone to compromise your data, disrupt your production and undermine your reputation.


Contact us to learn more about how CyberDefender SOCaaS can strengthen your security posture and give you the resilience your business needs to keep the threat actors away.


Together, we can build a safer and more efficient future for your manufacturing operations.



The manufacturing sector still needs to catch up when it comes to reinforcing their OT line security. After all, those systems were designed to focus more on operational performance and machine security than on cyber threats. Threat actors know this, and so they keep exploiting the vulnerability of the OT networks for profit. 


Using SOCaaS is an excellent way to keep the criminals as far from your machines and equipment as possible though. And when you don’t have to worry about the consequences of a potential cyberattack, you can focus better on your products – and your customers.


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