Cybersecurity: Food Processing and Manufacturing Industries.

The topic of data security is definitely on Corporate America’s minds these days. I have no doubt your company has had conversations about this topic as well. We all have seen time and again where hackers were able to get company information, hold it ransom and hit the bottom line hard. Not something to take lightly.

Cybersecurity Risks. Are you at risk?

So, is data security something the food processing and manufacturing industries be concerned with? You bet!

“Food industry ICSs not only have many of the same vulnerabilities as other sectors, but many unique ones as well. These include those stemming from the many companies still using ICSs that were developed before security was a concern and can’t be updated.”

A new research report from the Food Protection and Defense Institute (FPDI) at the University of Minnesota has revealed that there are indeed data security risks that threaten the food processing and manufacturing industry. It’s report outlined why the food industry could potentially become a target of cybercrime and warned that it is particularly at risk of attack due to a number of factors.

Here’s a couple of big ones:

  • Reliance on insecure/outdated industrial control systems (ICSs).
  • Lack of security maturity compared to other sectors.

Low hanging fruit. Something to think about.

One of the items to consider is that while technology for food processing and manufacturing processes has taken great leaps in advancement most times security improvements haven’t. Has yours? Be honest.

What’s more, because most industries such as energy, financial and healthcare have focused on cybersecurity solutions these crooks know where to look next and this could well be the food industry, which continues to use vulnerable ICSs that are discoverable on the internet.

Forget about it. Not!

I am sure those that are responsible for operating and maintaining industrial control systems in your organization are top notch experts in food safety and production. But do they even get cybersecurity?

My guess is if you polled your employees today you’d find that they find the whole subject overwhelming. I wish I could tell you that’s alright but it’s not.

Here’s what can happen:

  • Huge financial costs from ransomware payouts and lost productivity.
  • Equipment damage.
  • Food products becoming unsafe for sale and consumption.
  • Business and public health risks.

What can you do?

A few steps that could help:

  • Foster more communication between Operations and IT staff.
  • Begin conducting risk assessments that include inventorying both ICSs and IT systems.
  • Involve staff with cybersecurity expertise in the procurement and deployment process for ICS devices.
  • Extend your food safety and food defense culture to cybersecurity.

Coolearth Software takes it seriously.

Coolearth can discuss current ICS equipment and suggest solutions. Our software solutions offer encrypted passwords, secure transport protocol layers, complete authentication (network, IP, device and certificate) as well as HTTP / HTTPS certificates, OAUTH protocols and data storage encryption.

And… we work hand in hand with your network security gurus to make sure your processing / manufacturing data is secure and performs well.

Don’t ignore the impact that lack of planning can have on your company. Cybersecurity is a real issue and concern for the food processing and manufacturing industries. Make sure your staff understands the importance and you partner with vendors that get it.


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