The cybersecurity risks of each industry vary as much as the tools each sector uses. Some industries will get greater attention from hackers looking for valuable financial data. Sectors related to infrastructure are often targeted to cause disruption. This means professionals in each industry have to tailor their approach to cybersecurity.
Let’s review some of the key areas for concern in a handful of industries. What are the prevalent risks and how are cybersecurity methods applied accordingly? Below, we overview the importance of cybersecurity by industry.
The manufacturing industry is often at the forefront of digital change. This is often driven by the incentive to keep processes efficient and profit margins healthy. Greater competition in the field is increasingly influential too. However, this technological reliance can produce vulnerabilities. There’s a particular need for cybersecurity focus in the following areas:
- The Internet of Things
The connected ecosystem of technology known as the Internet of Things (IoT) is a growing presence in manufacturing. Sensors throughout the manufacturing process capture key data. This includes the stage of manufacturing, inventory management, and consumer delivery information.
These elements assist in efficiency and automation. But each point at which data is collected can also represent a potential breach vulnerability. As such, businesses need to ensure networks are secure and that data sent between devices is subject to encryption.
- Proprietary Workflow
One of the main assets manufacturers have over their competition is the specific elements of their workflow. This can include everything from the Artificial Intelligence (AI) they use to facilitate automated production to the organizational structure. This is valuable information and it makes manufacturers frequent targets of cybercriminals.
Therefore, manufacturers are subject to not just straight theft of their Intellectual Property (IP), but they’re also targets for ransomware attacks that they often are left with no choice but to pay the ransom. This is often initiated by any employee using a company device connected to their email. IP theft is usually the result of manufacturers simply failing to update their security tools. As breaches here can devastate a business, it is vital to adopt processes to educate staff, protect networks, and keep all software current.
Governments need to stay in step with the practices of their people. Populations expect those leading them to keep up with technology and software developments. This is the case at international, national, and local levels. As such, there are areas in which strict cybersecurity is important here.
- Voting Practices
The U.S. has a shaky history with electronic voting. The system has been used in past elections, and is being trialed in more areas. Still, it is not necessarily becoming standard practice. That said, it is a feature in many countries, and it may only be a matter of time before the U.S. government implements it more widely.
However, there is a significant amount of concern surrounding the practice. Electronic voting is subject to cybersecurity threats involving malicious intervention from other countries. There is also the potential for ballot creation issues and voter data beaches. No matter the type of election, effective protection here can preserve the integrity of results and the trust of citizens. As such, there is a need for collaboration between cybersecurity experts and government agencies. They need to assess threats, mitigate breaches, and design protocols to bolster systems.
- Sensitive Information
There is often a focus on national governments being prime targets for hackers. But local governments tend to see the majority of focused attacks on an international level. Indeed, these counties, towns, and cities all hold information about citizens, which includes electoral register details, court records, and even payment information for taxes. Therefore, this makes them a target for theft and ransomware attacks.
The storage and handling of such information are often limited to individual offices and departments. As such, each department needs to have strict protocols designed around the activities to collect, store, and use data. Cybersecurity professionals need to be a key part of these teams so actions can be assessed and adapted regularly.
It might seem that cybercriminals are more likely to target large corporations. However, small enterprises are increasingly at risk of compromise. Unless small businesses commit to strong security protocols and policies they are more likely to suffer severe negative consequences. It can certainly be more difficult for small companies to recover from breaches on both a financial and reputational level. This impacts both owners and the health of local economies. The issues often lie in a couple of key areas.
- Staff Behavior
Security breaches aren’t always the result of new viruses or particularly skilled hackers. Rather, small businesses tend to find these issues lie in their staff not practicing safe online behavior. This could include clicking on unfamiliar (and unsafe) emailed links and downloading malware. They may also use unsecured networks when working remotely or in public.
The key here is training and protocol clarity. Business leaders need to provide staff with proper cybersecurity education. They can’t limit these training sessions to what secure actions look like, it must involve knowledge of the potential consequences too. Leaders must also create documentation to outline how secure measures fit into employees’ daily activities.
- Budget Constraints
Perhaps the most common reason small businesses are at risk is the presence of fewer financial resources. Most small businesses can’t afford to keep a full-time member of cybersecurity staff employed. However, allowing security software to become outdated rather than paying for upgrades or subscriptions can cause problems.
The costs involved with a breach can far outweigh the initial outlay for proper security. Small businesses must create space in their budgets for security; this is no longer an optional extra. This may include providing in-house cybersecurity upskilling for certain members of staff.
Conclusion – The importance of cybersecurity by industry
Cybercrime continues to be a significant problem across almost all industries. The challenges for each sector are different. But one aspect they all share is that the consequences of ignoring the risks can be catastrophic. Breaches don’t just impact individual organizations. They affect the customers, communities, and economies companies interact with. All organizations need to take responsibility for continual focus here seriously.