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How Engineering Firms Can Mitigate Cyber Security Threats

  • Highlights

  • A cyber-attack can trigger a loss of $80,000

  • Employing enterprise-level encryption

  • Threats: loss of reputation, malicious alteration of designs, etc.

  • Protection measures for engineering firms

Cybercrime is on a rampant high, and firms should also factor in the need for a robust enterprise-oriented anti-virus software and firewall solution. A report by International Data Corporation predicts that businesses are expected to spend $101.6 billion on cyber-security software solutions by 2020.
The Wannacry ransomware attack affected more than 3 lakh computers in the span of a month. A more sophisticated attack followed in Petya, taking root in Ukraine and Russia, and spread to businesses in the United States and Europe. It even stalled operations at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Mumbai.
According to the statistics from multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus provider Kaspersky Lab, even a single targeted cyber-attack can cost an enterprise more than USD 2.5 million compared to a starting point of USD 80,000 for an average small to medium business.
As organisations embrace technology and automation, cyber security no longer remains a priority but a foremost imperative. For engineering industries, prevention and mitigation of cyber threats are critical to their survival and growth.

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Where Do The Threats Lie?

With more and more devices are being connected to each other. The data being produced/generated by these devices is humungous. This data is at an increased risk of being compromised and is prone to cyber-security threats.
Engineering professionals have previously been mostly ignored by cyber attackers. However, as engineering firms have a greater online presence and as technological integration of the occupant and the environment gains momentum, cyber attackers are now targeting buildings.

Thus, engineering firms can no longer be complacent and indifferent towards cyber threats.
The attacks generally fall into two categories – malicious viruses (introduced to the network internally) or external intrusions. The risks of a system breach include:
Reputational damage and loss of customers
Loss of intellectual property
Business interruption
Being held to ransom to remove external encryption from data
Malicious alteration of designs or survey findings
Financial fraud and defamation

What Can Be Done?

Engineering companies can minimize their vulnerability to cyber security threats with the help of thorough preventive measures.

1. Data Assessment

Firms should:
Evaluate what data it collects and maintains, and where it is stored
Identify the potential risks that need to be addressed and protections to be instituted
Once the scope of data and the magnitude of risk are understood, they should seek assistance from an information security expert.

2. Information Access

Business data can get compromised through phishing. According to a recent Cloudmark Survey, companies hit by a successful spear phishing have suffered an average financial loss of USD 1.6 million.
A firm should carefully document who has access to its systems, and administrative and security rights. It should regularly track active and inactive users, and implement a system to terminate access when needed.

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3. Encryption

According to the 2017 Global Encryption Trends study, 41% of companies have now a consistent enterprise-wide encryption strategy.
Examining how robust and reliable data encryption is goes a long way in preventing falling prey to cyber attacks. Encrypted data is less enticing to an attacker, as the data’s value is lost if one is unable to decode or read it.

4. Vendor Management

A recent study found that 63% of data breaches were linked to third-party vendors. The vendors were responsible for system development, support, and maintenance. It’s important for engineering firms to review their agreements with vendors and contractually mandate them to comply with specified data security standards.

5. Cyber Insurance

According to a recent report issued by PwC, the global cyber insurance market could grow to USD 5 billion in annual premiums by 2018, and at least USD 7.5 billion by the end of the decade.
Different insurance companies offer policies that cover cyber incidents with different covers, inclusions and exclusions. Engineering firms must seek assistance from a broker who understands their business’ needs, data sensitivity and the degree of risk involved, and thereby, recommend a suitable cyber insurance cover.

6. Team

A report from Frost & Sullivan and (ISC) found that the global cybersecurity workforce will have more than 1.5 million unfilled positions by 2020. This doesn’t augur well for businesses.
Firms must have a designated breach response team comprising both internal members and external specialists. Also, having a forensic investigation firm under contract, which can immediately deploy its resources to respond well in time and prevent aggravated outcomes, is a good idea.


Additional Read: 3 Problems Engineering Firms Can't Afford to Ignore

Cost of Cyber-Security Measures:

For engineering firms, implementation of cyber security is a multi-stage and costly process involving a wide range of steps. The cost of implementing such measures does not depend on the software installation alone but on a variety of factors. For example, the first step of implementing cyber security audit involves an initial security audit with an average cost of $10,000. This price increases with the complexity of setup. The deployment of technology solutions costs from $5,000 to $7,000 to address various system vulnerabilities in the business. Once the security infrastructure is in place, the running cost of the same may range from $3,000 to $4,000 per year.
Collateral-free Loans for Engineers help their firms procure and implement a cyber-security solution and help your company survive substantial financial losses that may be triggered by a targeted attack.

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