UK manufacturing industry 'must ramp up cyber security'

Research shows organisations' security is failing to keep pace with technology advances

The UK manufacturing sector must step up its security game in the face of ever-increasing cyber threats, according to the manufacturers' association, EEF.

Its research showed that while cyber security is given "serious attention" at board level by nearly two-thirds of companies that responded, there are still significant failings elsewhere.

Investment in cyber security has stagnated, with half of manufacturers making no increase in cyber security investment. Among small manufacturers, that figure rises to 56 per cent.

Only 36 per cent said they have an incident response plan in place, while 20 per cent said they do not make their employees aware of cyber risks in company policies.

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These kinds of attitudes are a serious risk to what is termed the "fourth industrial revolution", EEF claimed, pointing out that cyber attacks on the manufacturing sector could lead to data manipulation that "[if] left undetected could lead to changes in product formulation or create health and safety risks", as well as IP theft, loss of customer databases, deletion of critical data and other issues.

"As technology and data start to play increasingly critical roles in manufacturing, companies will inevitably find themselves more vulnerable to cyber breaches. Our survey highlights that investment in new technology isn't being matched by investment in managing risks, especially among smaller firms," said Lee Hopley, chief economist at EEF.

"Technology is set to transform our industry as part of the fourth industrial revolution, opening up immense opportunities and possibilities but risks run alongside the rewards. It is important that manufacturers are able to identify, understand and put the correct strategies in place to keep their businesses safe and cyber secure," she added.

In response, the trade body has developed a tool to help manufacturers benchmark their cyber security and is also planning to organise focus groups to continue monitoring security trends in the sector.

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