The digital transformation of the manufacturing industry has enabled an enterprise-wide change for manufacturing organizations. The digitization of operational efficiencies unlocks new potential for companies that formerly strictly operated on-premises. The digital era has reinvented the way these business units work and offered them revolutionary ways to adapt to new market spaces and evolving consumer demands.

Here are some ways in which digitization transforms the operational capabilities of the manufacturing sector:

  • Data-driven operations
  • Improved competitiveness & agility
  • Real-time insights into market behavior
  • Enhanced production efficiencies

However, there are two sides to every coin. While introducing digitization has improved the way manufacturing organizations innovate, produce, and deliver their offerings, the downside to this digital trend is faced in the form of weak cybersecurity. Manufacturing companies can be more susceptible to security attacks. There can be multiple reasons for this, especially the size of the manufacturing units. These units might even span multiple geographies and third-party vendors. An online attack on one unit can translate into a series of attacks on the various stakeholders involved with the company.

Thus, the need for security testing multiplies manyfold in this sector. One of the most effective ways to secure your online operations is through penetration testing. Let’s discuss security penetration testing for the manufacturing sector in further detail:

Why is there a need for Security Penetration Testing in the Manufacturing Sector?

The manufacturing sector is becoming more and more susceptible to cyberattacks as it embraces digital transformation. Manufacturing companies frequently house personal customer information, financial information, and sensitive intellectual property that needs to be secured from hackers.

Here are some major aspects of the manufacturing sector that induce the need for security and pen tests:

  1. Compliance Requirements

Manufacturing companies must abide by several compliance laws, such as those pertaining to supply chain security, data privacy, and intellectual property protection. Regulation fines and reputational harm to the business may arise from noncompliance with these regulations. Adherence to these rules is essential to preserving the faith and confidence of partners, suppliers, and clients.

  1. Impact of Security Attacks on the Manufacturing Sector

For manufacturing organizations, cybersecurity incidents can have major repercussions that include:

  • Production losses and operational downtime
  • Theft of intellectual property
  • Breach of private information
  • Supply chain interruptions
  • Regulatory penalties
  • Unfavorable public relations and press
  • Diminished efficiency
  • Brand Injury
  • Loss of customer trust
  • Legal fees and settlements due to data breaches or non-compliance with legislation
  1. Aggravated Challenges for the Manufacturing Sector
  • Minimal Security Expertise: Because they are more concerned with ensuring that operations run smoothly than with crucial security issues, staff who oversee remote connectivity frequently lack training in this area and these organizations frequently lack experience in OT (Operational Technology) cybersecurity.
  • Low Security Awareness: Staff might not know how important cybersecurity is for the manufacturing equipment and associated OT systems, or they might not know how to recognize and report cyber threats.
  • Antiquated Technology along with many outdated OT systems renders them more susceptible to hackers.
  • Lack of Visibility and Control: It is typical for manufacturing companies to have little control over their OT systems and little visibility, which makes it challenging to identify and stop cyber threats. Vulnerabilities at hundreds of possible entry points cannot be found due to this lack of environmental visibility.
  • Limited Security Testing and Monitoring: Industrial manufacturers and businesses in this sector may lack the funds necessary to routinely test and monitor the security of these systems, which makes it more difficult to identify and respond to threats.

To overcome these obstacles and safeguard sensitive data, cybersecurity solutions must be implemented and managed effectively through the execution of detailed plans.

How Are Pen Tests Executed?

Pen testers mimic hostile enemies’ attacks. They usually follow a strategic plan that consists of the following actions to accomplish this:

Phase 1: Preliminary Research 

To guide the attack approach, collect as much information as you can on the target from both public and private sources. Internet searches, retrieving information from domain registrations, social engineering, nonintrusive network scanning, and occasionally even dumpster diving are some examples of sources. Pen testers can use this information to map out potential vulnerabilities and the attack surface of the target.

Phase 2: Examination 

Pen testers utilize tools to look for vulnerabilities in the target system or website, such as open-source vulnerabilities, open services, and application security problems. Pen testers employ a range of tools, depending on what they discover both during the test and during the research phase.

Phase 3: Acquiring Entry

The goals of an attacker may be to move money, steal, alter, or remove data, or just harm a company’s reputation. Pen testers identify the most effective tools and methods to breach a system, be it by malware, social engineering, or another vulnerability like SQL injection, in order to execute each test case.

Phase 4: Preserving Entry

Pen testers must maintain a connection to the target during their simulated attack in order to complete their objectives of altering, stealing, or abusing functionality. It’s about showcasing the potential impact these attacks can cause.

What to Consider When Conducting Pen Tests?

  • IAM (Identity and Access Management): This security principle manages OT-related processes, digital identities, and policies. It allows system admins to regulate authorization and access to the company systems.
  • Anti-malware Applications: These applications are configured to monitor and detect any malware in the OT systems. They have authorization to take proactive actions against such suspicious activities to block any unidentified entry into company systems.
  • Firewalls: As the name suggests, firewalls are what you would call a fortification wall around your system. It acts as a checkpoint to monitor all the network traffic going in and out of your industrial network system. Firewalls can build perimeters for monitoring within the system through pre-defined rules set by testers.


The manufacturing sector has undeniably witnessed a digital revolution that has brought about new systems, procedures, and tools. It thus becomes critical to secure these advances by concentrating on security and penetration testing for this sector. Especially, the manufacturing sector needs to overcome the huge backlog in its cybersecurity expertise so that it can grow through its strengthened cybersecurity posture.