Cybersecurity isn’t just for large companies. It’s not just about computer networks either. According to September 2017 report from MForesight, a federally-funded research and development consortium, U.S. manufacturers of all sizes are prime targets for cyberattacks and cyberespionage. Hackers don’t just want to bring down your network. They want to steal your intellectual property (IP), too.

There hasn’t been a major cyberattack on U.S. industry (yet), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t manufacturing victims. For example, when employees at a Utica, New York manufacturer arrived for work one morning, their computer monitors displayed an ominous message: “Your Files Have Been Encrypted. Pay $25,000 in 24 hours or all of your files and the files on your network will be destroyed.”

Fortunately, a team of cybersecurity experts was able to stabilize the company’s IT resources so that business operations could resume. Yet the costs of this attack were substantial. The manufacturer didn’t pay the cyberattackers, but losses in productivity and other costs totaled nearly a third of the ransom amount. Ransomware, as this type of malicious software is known, is just one of many cyberthreats.

Electronic Assemblies and Cyberthreats

For manufacturers of electronic assemblies, the stakes are growing. As of December 31, 2017, companies that do business with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) must meet well-defined cybersecurity requirements. Many electronics manufacturers don’t deal directly with DOD, of course, but defense contractors don’t want their subcontractors to put hard-won awards at risk.

Cybersecurity isn’t just for the defense industry either. Connected medical devices can be at risk. According to guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), medical device manufacturers should protect their products against the risk of failure from a cyberattack. By addressing cybersecurity challenges during the design process, companies can protect both patients and profits.

Government agencies are hardly the only organizations that are concerned about cybersecurity. In 2015, the automotive industry established an Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center (Auto-ISAC) to counter cyberthreats. More recently, the Digital Manufacturing Design and Innovation Institute (DMDII) established a Cyber Hub for Manufacturing to test new technologies for protecting shop floors.

Cybersecurity and Your Manufacturing Business

How would your manufacturing company handle a cyberattack? That possibility may still seem remote, but do your customers think the same way? In other words, if you’re a supplier to industries such as defense, medical device manufacturing, or automotive, you could face increasing pressure from your supply chain partners. With cybersecurity, the entire chain is only as strong as the weakest link.