The research into the security of UK manufacturers found that 37% believe that the conditions created due to the Covid-19 pandemic made cyber attacks possible.
More than half (55%), meanwhile, said that cyber security incidents resulted in the theft of sensitive information about customers or employees.
While the majority of attacks (57%) were judged to be carried out by cyber criminals, almost two-fifths of manufacturers (38%) described negligent employees or contractors as the root cause of security issues.
The manufacturing sector has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with factories either having to close or operate with less staff present in order to facilitate adequate social distancing.
“The events of the last year have hit the manufacturing sector hard, with business owners scrambling to preserve jobs and establish a route through ever-changing restrictions and world-wide challenges to their ability to succeed,” said Darren Guccione, CEO and co-founder of Keeper Security.
“Inundated with a series of critical business challenges, it has been understandably hard for manufacturers to stay on top of risks that haven’t yet created tangible damage.”
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Even before Covid-19 took hold in the UK, supply chain, sales and distribution were becoming increasingly affected by border closures, factory stoppages and retail restrictions worldwide.
Along with these difficulties, the research found that many manufacturers had been remiss in their approach to cyber security prior to the pandemic, with 44% admitting to being without a sufficiently rigorous security system in place.
An expected continuation of remote working and usage of personal devices is likely to see security get even worse, with two-thirds of firms (67%) admitting that their IT security measures aren’t fit-for-purpose.
Password security was found to be particularly weak, with 66% of firms not requiring remote workers to use a password manager or implement any authentication methods beyond a password.
Compromised and stolen passwords are the most common (49%) cause of attacks among UK manufacturers, making a lack of sufficient password security a particular cause for concern.
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“Every day that security is de-prioritised or overlooked increases the risk of a serious attack that could be fatal to the business,” continued Guccione.
“The disruption and stoppages cyber attacks can create is only one side of the coin: the other is the fines and penalties potentially applied if customer data is compromised.
“Taking some simple steps, like ensuring secure, unique passwords through a password manager, doesn’t take long or require sophisticated IT expertise, but will deliver large returns for a business’s security and peace of mind for stakeholders.”