Manufacturers are being urged to take a simple new test to check how cyber aware they are. The free test has been designed by EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, after new research revealed that companies could be unknowingly leaving themselves vulnerable to a cyber attack, with smaller businesses particularly at risk.
EEF's findings show that just under half (46%) of manufacturers have failed to increase their investment in cyber security in the past two years. Amongst small manufacturers this rises to 56%. Two in ten firms (20%) are not actively making employees aware of cyber risks, while less than six in ten (56%) say cyber security is given serious attention by their board.
This is of concern because manufacturing is on the cusp of a 4th industrial revolution driven by rapid advances and take up in technology, which will bring huge opportunities, but also risks. Dubbed Industry 4.0 or 4IR, this next industrial transformation will see ever greater reliance on data. Eight in ten manufacturers (80%) say that 4IR will be a business reality within the next ten years, making it vital that they get the right systems and security measures in place now.
Government figures show that, last year, 90% of large businesses and 74% of small businesses reported a cyber security breach – an increase on 2014. The average cost of these breaches was between £1.46 million to £3.14 million for a large firm and £75k to £311k for a small business.
EEF's free online test will help companies to benchmark their cyber awareness. They will also find useful information and links to further advice so that they can bring themselves up-to-speed. Manufacturers will also be able to register to take part in 4IR focus groups that the industry body is organising in a bid to ensure the UK has a business environment that enables rather than hinders the 4th industrial revolution.
Chris Richards, Senior Policy Adviser at EEF, says: "As technology and data play ever more critical roles in manufacturing, companies will inevitably find themselves more vulnerable to cyber threats. As the industry body we think it's vital to start raising awareness now so that manufacturers can plan for the cyber risks associated with the 4th industrial revolution.
"The fact is that technology will transform our industry, opening up immense opportunities and possibilities. But risks run alongside the rewards and it's important that manufacturers are able to identify, understand and put the correct strategies in place to keep their businesses safe and cyber secure.
"There are also many other barriers that could see Britain losing out on investment in 4IR technologies. This is why we are looking to bring industry together to collectively identify the major barriers to the next industrial age."
Companies can take the free test and register to take part in a 4IR Industry Focus Group here: www.eef.org.uk/fourthindustrial