Cyber-attacks are on the rise in 2021. There were 184 million ransomware attacks in 2017; by 2020, the number of annual ransomware attacks climbed to 304 million. Last year, experts identified 270,000 new variants of malware—120,000 more than they had identified in 2019.
The threat is particularly high in the manufacturing industry; attacks on manufacturing companies around the world rose 300% in 2021, according to the Global Threat Intelligence Report.
In the 12-month period between June 2020 and June 2021, one in five manufacturing companies in the US and the UK experienced cyber attacks—and that’s likely a conservative estimate.
While these threats were taking root in manufacturing and in other industries, corporate networks were also evolving. Device sprawl across distributed workforces and the adoption of smart devices contribute to the increasing difficulty security professionals face when it comes to defining and protecting corporate networks.
While perimeter-based models were once the default for network security, today’s network-security professionals are overhauling their approach in favor of security solutions like microsegmentation that adhere to zero-trust principles. These fundamental changes are an appropriate and powerful response to the exploding frequency of cyber-threats and the new reality of the shape of corporate networks.
Here’s a snapshot of the state of microsegmentation in the manufacturing industry and beyond in 2021.
Microsegmentation is the new standard for network security
According to research conducted in 2021, microsegmentation adoption has grown quickly and spread widely. 83% of cybersecurity leaders have already implemented some form of microsegmentation at their organizations. At the same time, adoption rates vary from industry to industry. Manufacturing leads the pack with 95% of cybersecurity professionals having implemented microsegmentation models in some form. As a point of comparison, industries like telecommunications have seen less than 30% adoption.
It’s safe to assume that this is fueled by the overwhelmingly positive reputation that microsegmentation has earned among network-security professionals. According to our research, 92% of cybersecurity leaders believe that microsegmentation is a practical and efficient way of improving overall network security.
In that sense, security professionals are enthusiastic about microsegmentation because it addresses so many security priorities at once: threat management, secure-remote access, precision-policy enforcement, centralized-device fleet control, and legacy-device coverage. The ability to address the full scope of network-security challenges that manufacturing companies face is likely one of the main drivers behind microsegmentation’s traction in the industry.
Why some companies still lag behind in adopting microsegmentation
Manufacturers that have been slow to adopt microsegmentation share the same concerns as other industries—namely, resources. Lack of personnel, budget, or time dedicated to deployment (or the perceived lack of those resources) stands in the way of more universal adoption. The concerns are understandable, particularly for global manufacturers that manage vast networks and diverse device fleets, but it’s those same organizations that are at the greatest risk from bad actors.
Ironically, the other common factor keeping cybersecurity professionals from implementing microsegmentation is network complexity, which presents something of a catch-22. Networks becoming more and more complex in recent years—a trend that has been accelerated by the pandemic, which saw remote work skyrocket to new highs—is one of the reasons microsegmentation is such an apt security solution today, and yet it is also one of the factors preventing some security professionals from adopting it.
The time for microsegmentation in manufacturing is now
For security professionals who face delays, it’s important to understand that newer microsegmentation technologies have successfully lowered or eliminated those perceived barriers. And in the manufacturing industry, there’s no time to lose. Cyber-criminals understand that manufacturing companies manage and maintain huge quantities of valuable data, which makes them vulnerable to intellectual-property theft, in addition to the direct cost of production downtime from a potential ransomware attack. The lingering effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic have laid bare just how critical supply chain health is to stable economies; another point of vulnerability for the manufacturing industry.
Microsegmentation offers companies in the manufacturing industry—and across the board—a powerful security solution that protects the least-divisible components of a corporate network: its endpoints. By providing security at such a granular level, microsegmentation allows security professionals to identify threats and address attacks before they can move laterally and proliferate throughout a network.
As the new gold standard of robust security strategies, microsegmentation is the right move for manufacturing companies facing increased threats and expanding networks. And thanks to innovation in the space, microsegmentation is firmly within reach for companies that have held back due to concerns about time, money and manpower.
Ryan Bunker is the director of business development at Byos