Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Canadian manufacturing businesses unprepared for cyber attacks, MA poll reveals

December 15, 2023
By Sukanya Ray Ghosh

Most manufacturing facilities and businesses today have implemented some form of automation. In this era of connected factories and technologies, data holds immense power.

Prioritizing preparedness against cyber attacks is even more crucial due to the increasing integration of digital technologies, connectivity and data-driven processes. Today’s systems rely heavily on interconnected devices, sensors and software to streamline operations and enhance efficiency. However, this interconnectedness makes them susceptible to cyber threats that can have severe consequences.

So, how prepared are Canadian manufacturing businesses? Manufacturing AUTOMATION conducted a poll to understand where they stand.

A cyber attack on manufacturing operations can disrupt production processes, leading to expensive downtime and potential financial losses. Malicious actors may exploit vulnerabilities in the system to alter product quality. It is, therefore, unfortunate that 54 percent of the respondents shared that they are not prepared at all. They currently lack sufficient cybersecurity measures and understand that they need urgent action to enhance their defences. Another eight percent of the respondents shared that they have very limited preparedness. They do have basic cybersecurity measures in place. They have taken that first step but recognize the need for significant improvements to their action plans.


The interconnected nature of automated systems makes them potential entry points for broader attacks on critical infrastructure. A compromised manufacturing facility could serve as a gateway for attackers to infiltrate other parts of a network, possibly even posing risks to national security and public safety. In the poll, 23 percent of the respondents indicated that they are moderately prepared. They do have some cybersecurity measures in place. However, there are gaps and they need attention.

Industry experts suggest creating a plan of action for securing operational technology (OT) on the plant floor. To do so, it is important to have a deep understanding of the specific risks and vulnerabilities of the manufacturing business, they say. The cover story of MA’s November/December 2023 issue discusses this in detail. In the poll, 15 percent of the respondents shared that they are well prepared against cyber attacks. They have implemented comprehensive cybersecurity protocols. However, as technology evolves, so do the risks. The respondents feel that they still have some room for improving their defences.

Unfortunately, none of the respondents feel that they are extremely prepared and ahead of the curve in terms of industry standards. Robust cybersecurity measures, including regular updates, encryption and employee training, are essential to safeguard against evolving cyber threats, ensuring the resilience, reliability and safety of automated manufacturing processes in an increasingly interconnected digital landscape.

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