Australian manufacturers fear nation-state cyber threats

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Monday, 24 April, 2023

Australian manufacturers fear nation-state cyber threats

More than three-quarters (79%) of IT decision-makers from the Australian manufacturing sector fear the prospect of nation-state attacks on the sector, new research published by BlackBerry suggests.

A survey commissioned by the company found that 59% of IT decision-makers from the sector are concerned about foreign governments spying on their facilities and 38% anticipate an elevated risk of cyber attack in 2023.

But 71% of respondents indicated that operational technology infrastructure is difficult to defend, while 87% admit to be still running core functions on outdated and unsupported legacy operating systems.

The research also found that 75% of Australian manufacturing IT decision-makers estimate the cost of a cyber breach to be up to $373,525, with the anticipated costs attributable to unanticipated downtime, a loss of customers and impacts to supplier relationships, among other factors.

BlackBerry Director of Engineering for Asia Pacific and Japan Jonathan Jackson said the findings demonstrate the critical importance of ensuring cyber resilience throughout the manufacturing supply chain.

“Australian manufacturers are headed for stormy waters as nation states up the ante on surveillance and the risk of cyber incident is high — and rising — yet the industry is hampered by a threat surface that is largely antiquated and difficult to defend,” he said.

“Cybersecurity has become a significant barrier to progress, and managers shackled by aging hardware and outdated operating systems are challenged to unify security across old and new to forge ahead with modernisation.”

Jackson acknowledged that for a sector dealing with aged and isolated equipment, it can be difficult to put protection into manufacturers’ IT environments. But he said it is not impossible.

“With a lightweight footprint and OS agnostic solution, protection can be extended to every endpoint to close the gaping vulnerabilities across manufacturing infrastructure,” he said.

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