Say “data security” and you might think of top-secret military databases, retailers with customer information records or health insurers with confidential medical and patient data. So where does that leave Los Angeles manufacturers?
On the face of it, apparel, food, metal and transport products, and even computer and electronic manufacturing might not look like prime targets for cyber criminals. However, there’s more to the data security situation than meets the eye.
Hackers Piggybacking Their Way In
Hackers do not necessarily want what is inside the systems of Los Angeles manufacturers. They are also on the lookout for ways to use such systems to attack other companies elsewhere:
- Using an access ID granted to a manufacturer by a retailer for visibility into the retailer’s stock database, for instance. The hacker might take control of the manufacturer’s access ID, get into the retailer’s database, and from there move over to the retailer’s customer records. This may take the hacker considerable work, but if the retailer is an organization like the nationwide Target supermarket chain, massive data thefts can be perpetrated.
- Turning the manufacturer’s systems into slave systems that a hacker can use to launch “denial of service” attacks via the Internet on another organization. The slave systems (“botnet”) take out the other organization’s systems by generating an enormous number of calls over the Internet, and crippling defenses to give the hacker more ways into those other systems.
- Installing rogue programs in the manufacturer’s systems and diverting user transactions from the web to those programs to harvest credit card payments and more. As long as the manufacturer fails to check what is running on its systems, the hacker can continue to use the manufacturer as an unsuspecting base for criminal operations.
Of course, while hackers are up to these tricks, they may well sniff around the manufacturer’s systems to see if there is any low-hanging fruit to grab immediately. Company bank account information and employee records with social security numbers are often favorites. Don’t discount possibilities of deliberate damage from activist groups (“hacktivists”) or unscrupulous competitors either.
The 80/20 Rule Applied to Data Security
Los Angeles manufacturers become targets of interest to hackers when their IT systems are poorly protected and continually neglected. With a mindset that is somewhere between “It would not happen to us” and “We are not worth a hacker’s time and effort”, some companies practically roll over and invite cyber criminals to trample them underfoot.
However, the 80/20 rule applies and can help. With a few basic security precautions (20% of investment), such as a firewall, antivirus software and keeping system operating systems up to date, manufacturers can rapidly beef up protection (80% of results), and make their operations much more difficult for hackers to attack.
In many cases, hackers will then simply move on to look for other victims. So as a manufacturer in Los Angeles, if you take a little trouble with your data security, you can save yourself a lot of trouble afterward.
Do your business partners ask you for proof of data security precautions? Can this be a competitive advantage for you to clinch deals? Share your experience with us in the Comments section below.
If you own or manage a distribution company in Los Angeles, and you’re looking to stay up to date on the latest technology, be sure to download your free guide, How COOs at Los Angeles Distributors and Manufacturers Get More Done: A Guide to Productivity, Data, Staffing, Delegation, and Making It Home for Dinner Most Nights.