Half of manufacturing firms have been the victim of cyber crime during the last year after thousands of organisations moved their staff to remote working because of the Covid crisis, new research suggests.
Make UK said cyber criminals have been exploiting the emergency working measures, mounting attacks which have come at a “massive cost” to businesses.
One in four companies has reported losses of up to £25,000 for each cyber breach and 6% lost at least £100,000, said the manufacturers’ organisation.
Half of manufacturers said cyber security has become a higher priority since the start of the Covid outbreak, and three out of five now have a designated board director responsible for cyber protection across the whole of their business, the study indicated.
Make UK said that, despite improvements in cyber awareness, 44% of manufacturers do not offer cyber security training to their staff.
Chief executive Stephen Phipson said: “Digitisation is revolutionising modern manufacturing and has without doubt kept it running successfully over the past year.
“The rewards are obvious – technological leaps in the design, development, fabrication and operation of the goods and services the UK makes. But the cyber security threat to manufacturers is growing and evolving with it.
“No business can afford to ignore this issue and, while the increased awareness across the sector is encouraging, there is still much to be done, with too many businesses still burying their heads in the sand.
“Failing to get this right as a nation could cost the UK economy billions of pounds and put thousands of jobs at risk.”
Dr Asma Vranaki, cyber-security regulation expert at the University of Bristol, said: “This report comes at an opportune time to highlight the real and complex cyber-security challenges of remote working, which still remains a reality for most of us due to the pandemic.
“These challenges are by no means limited to the manufacturing sector. In many cases, organisations have to comply with several and fragmented cyber-security laws.
“However, as this report highlights, compliance on the ground can remain patchy and variable due to several factors including lack of comprehensive employee training and cyber-security risk analysis.”
– The report was based on a survey of 169 manufacturers.