The What, Why, and How of Cybersecurity Assessments for the Food Industry

Co-Authored by Jason Weber, VP of Product for Veracity, and Brandon Bohle, Cybersecurity systems analyst and team lead for Interstates

A cybersecurity assessment is a critical step for manufacturers to ensure the security and integrity of their systems, networks, and sensitive data. With the increasing reliance on technology in the manufacturing industry, it’s important to be proactive to assess and address potential vulnerabilities that could compromise the security of production processes and sensitive information. Network security solutions play a crucial role in protecting against cyber threats.

Conducting a cybersecurity assessment can help to identify and fix any weaknesses in systems, such as outdated software or inadequate access controls. It can also help with compliance with industry regulations and standards, such as the NIST Standards for Security and Privacy Controls. In addition to protecting against cyber threats, a cybersecurity assessment can also help manufacturers maintain the trust of their customers and partners. Data breaches and cyber attacks can damage a company’s reputation and lead to financial losses, legal liabilities, and customer churn. By demonstrating a commitment to cybersecurity and implementing effective security measures, companies can build confidence and credibility with their stakeholders.

A cybersecurity assessment can be conducted in-house or by an external vendor with expertise in the field. The assessment process typically involves reviewing the current state of a company’s cybersecurity measures, identifying any gaps or weaknesses, and recommending actions to address those issues. We recommend that manufacturers consider conducting routine cybersecurity assessments to ensure that their systems and network security solutions are always up-to-date and secure.

The process for a cyber assessment will likely vary depending on who performs it but ultimately will result in a prioritized list of risks and, if you hire a 3rd party, they will provide remediation strategies. The manufacturer should be prepared to share the security practices, policies, and procedures so they can be compared against industry best practices and regulations. From there, any risks will be identified with suggestions on how best to mitigate them. When hiring an external partner, make sure you choose a company with experience in your industry. It is critical that they understand the unique challenges the facility may be facing.

The Food and Beverage industry is particularly vulnerable to cyber threats due to the critical nature of food production and the potential impact on public safety. Cyber attacks on Food manufacturer systems can disrupt the supply chain in many ways such as distribution or the product itself, causing widespread disruption and concern. A cybersecurity assessment is especially important for the Food and Beverage industry to assess and address potential vulnerabilities in their systems and networks. This can include evaluating the security of control systems, plant floors, industrial networks, and other assets.

In addition to traditional cybersecurity measures, some industries, including Food and Beverage, also need to consider specific threats such as insider attacks and sabotage and physical security measures to protect against the potential for damage to equipment. It’s also important for these industries to consider the potential for cyber attacks to disrupt production or distribution, such as those used for ensuring food is available in grocery stores all over the world. A cybersecurity assessment can help identify any weaknesses in these systems and recommend steps to improve their resilience.

Overall, a cybersecurity assessment is essential to ensure the security and reliability of industrial networks and to protect against the potential consequences of cyber attacks. With the increasing reliance on technology, it’s important to protect sensitive data and implement effective network security solutions to ensure the integrity of production processes.

For more information on industrial cybersecurity assessments, visit the Interstates website.


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