How Does CyberSecurity Affect Electronics Manufacturing for Defense Sector?

2021-03-09 12:57 - MADES

Several decades ago, the only concern for defense was traditional insurgent activities. Not even the arrival of the ENIAC would give an idea about future cybersecurity challenges. Ever since information technology took root in different industries, defense had no option but to pursue advanced cybersecurity solutions.

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Fig 1: The ENIAC, A Pioneer Military Computer (from source)

Modern weapons are intelligent and have frightening surveillance power. Complexity of reconnaissance systems has multiplied. The amount of classified data continues to balloon. Where defense is highly intelligent and connected, there lies an elevated risk for IT security challenges and cyber-attacks. The Center for Strategic & International Studies details cyber-attack incidents since 2006 and it’s easy to lose count. A most recent incident involved theft of data from 40 Israeli companies by Iranian hackers.

A nation’s development, economy and security are dependent on its capability to secure its cyberspace. Electronics manufacturers are at the epicenter of cyber threats, so their processes must have all the relevant safeguards. Manufacturing against cybersecurity is an industry-standard. If an electronics manufacturer for defense does not incorporate secure processes, systems and components, it’s too risky.

Genesis of Cyber-security for Electronics Manufacturing

In 2010, the discovery of Stuxnet computer worm created momentum for cybersecurity for national defense. The designers of this worm targeted industrial programmable logic controllers (PLCs) – controllers that are central to the automation of factory assembly lines and machinery. In the aftermath of the damage caused by Stuxnet, manufacturing companies swiftly started implementing cybersecurity measures in their processes. Electronic manufacturers were predictably in the frontline of this new path.

Cyber Security Effect on the Manufacturer and Customers

lack of cybersecurity measures can expose electronic customers to a wide range of repercussions. Financial and personal information can end up in the wrong hands when the customer orders an electronic item. Experts warn that the consequences of such a breach for the manufacturer can be at the very minimum a loss of market share.

Impact on defense can be unimaginable. When people think about threats to national security, it is often about toxic politics and around nuclear weapons. Concern about equally serious threat- hacking and malicious software- seems minimal. The truth is that the cybersecurity threat on defense electronics is real. If you can recall, hackers managed to infiltrate a treatment plant in the US in 2016. Were it not for the timely detection of chemical mixture alterations, millions of people would have been poisoned.

Response to Cybercrime in Military Electronics

Robotics, artificial intelligence and sensor networks are likely to continue transforming defense activities in the coming years. Likewise, electronics-related cybercrime in manufacturing for defense sector is expected to escalate. Most manufacturers say they are applying digital technologies to counter the problem.

While complete protection against cyber-attacks in the defense industry may be a farfetched idea at the moment, electronic manufacturers can use available measures to minimize the chances of infiltration.

Perhaps the initial step should be a careful review of the electronics supply chain. They are already doing it in the US military after discovering various vulnerabilities, for instance, the existence of counterfeit electronic components.

This step complements a partnership with a reputable contract electronic manufacturer for defense. MADES recognizes the gravity of cybersecurity in electronics manufacturing for the defense sector, and has placed stringent measures. Leading defense contractors in North America and Europe place their trust in the systems and subsystems manufactured by MADES. This trust is based on our unique experience and understanding of advanced electronic systems, which we use to address our clients’ challenges.

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