Just a couple of months ago, Twitter cloud servers went offline due to extreme heat in northern California. Many companies – including giants like PayPal, Apple and Microsoft – have data centers in the western U.S. and even more are being built. With temperatures rising and water shortages worsening in the region, data loss is a major risk for those who rely exclusively on cloud storage — no matter their location. Here’s a deeper dive into how manufacturing and industrial companies can focus on data resiliency that considers how and where their data is stored.
How Secure is Manufacturing Right Now?
The 2022 Apricorn Global IT Security Survey surveyed professionals across a variety of verticals, including manufacturing, to learn more about specific cyber security practices. The results confirmed that manufacturing is doing relatively well in terms of managing remote work policies and cyber security in general.
For example, 75% of respondents reported that remote working is now a standard practice in their organization and that all typical security policies are the same regardless of work location. Furthermore, 88% have not let their work devices be used by another member of their household when they have worked remotely, which is a surprisingly high amount.
Still, there is room for improvement. This is especially true when factoring in the risks beyond remote work; namely, extreme weather. Such threats require following strong backup best practices, yet just 17.5% of IT professionals surveyed follow the recommended 3-2-1 storage strategy and backing up in real-time.
While 35% have their data backed up to both the cloud and encrypted hardware storage devices, which is ideal, this means that 65% are not doing both. All of this means that manufacturers’ data and business continuity are at risk.
Cyber Resilience Best Practices for Manufacturing
In order to securely store data, even in the event of extreme weather damage, here’s what to do.
- Adhere to The 3-2-1 Rule
Referenced earlier, the 3-2-1 rule tells us to store three data copies on two different pieces of media, with one of them being stored offsite. This is the best way to achieve true resilience, and can include cloud backups, on premise storage, as well as encrypted USBs, hard drives or other portable and removable storage devices. Remember that multiple backups don’t matter if they’re stored in the same place, as one extreme weather event is enough to destroy them all. This is why keeping one copy offsite is crucial to resilience.
- Focus on Your People
It’s well-documented that human errors are often the cause of many security breaches, so it’s crucial to take the time to educate and train your workforce on their roles, risks and expected protocols. This means mandating comprehensive training modules that explain security policies and processes, teach staff to recognize scams like phishing, and instruct them in using security tools.
It’s also critical that you document your data protection policies, and put guidelines in place for enforcing them. Having incident response plans for quick restoration and making sure everyone on your team knows how and when to back up their data, which methods to use and other recovery procedures can make all the difference.
- Data Hygiene & Encryption
Of course, any good cyber resilience plan must include proper data hygiene. Start by conducting a thorough data management audit so you can flag vulnerabilities, inadequate practices and unforeseen attack vectors. Use and enforce identity authentication and backup processes, so you’ll be ready to restore operations quickly after an incident occurs.
Taking care of your data also means encrypting it. Encryption won’t help if a backup is destroyed by a fire or tornado, but it does serve as a last resort should your data become compromised by an attacker. Encryption will help to protect information as it’s being handled, transmitted and stored. Furthermore, it means you won’t have to notify every impacted individual should a breach takes place.
Extreme weather – from unprecedented heat waves to hurricanes, floods and more – will compromise manufacturing companies that have only relied on cloud backups or other insufficient protective measures. In order to protect your data, your business and your reputation, it’s imperative you take cyber security seriously and go above and beyond general best practices. Follow the 3-2-1 rule, ensure your team members are well trained to do their part and take extra care to keep your data well managed and under lock and key. When you do, you can breathe easy come what may, whether that’s an attack, an earthquake, or most anything else.
About the Author:
Kurt Markley is U.S. Managing Director at Apricorn, a manufacturer of hardware-encrypted USB drives. Kurt has more than 20 years’ experience in technology and cybersecurity.
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