10 Industrial Cybersecurity Best Practices for Small and Medium Enterprises


Industrial cybersecurity is a crucial consideration for organizations of all sizes. But small and medium enterprises (SMEs) face unique challenges in protecting their systems. Implementing robust cybersecurity measures is essential for SMEs in the industrial sector. This way, they can safeguard their operations.

Assessing Vulnerabilities

To begin fortifying defenses, SMEs must thoroughly examine their risk landscape. 85% of manufacturing sector data breaches involve stolen credentials. This data came from the Verizon 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report. Conducting cyber risk assessments enables businesses to identify critical assets and potential vulnerabilities. It also lets them analyze past security incidents to learn from them. These insights allow SMEs to tailor security efforts to their precise needs.

Establishing a Cybersecurity Policy

A robust cybersecurity policy is the cornerstone of an organization’s defense. Using solutions from industrial cybersecurity leaders equips SMEs with the technology and expertise needed to enhance risk visibility. However, research shows that many SMEs lack formal policies, severely hampering security efforts. Some systems do not have leadership establishing guidelines clarifying the following:

  • Security standards

  • Procedures

  • Technologies

  • Staff roles

This results in disjointed efforts that fail to provide adequate protection.

Policies demonstrate that security is an executive priority. They empower personnel to make decisions aligned with organizational security objectives. That is because expectations have been clearly set. Leadership must develop policies tailored to the following:

  • Their risk landscape

  • Operational constraints

  • Regulatory environment

Consultants can provide unbiased assessments highlighting areas needing attention.

Documents should clearly define responsibilities across IT, HR, legal, and other departments.. For example, CISOs typically oversee technology defenses. HR handles insider threat investigations and legal navigates compliance duties. But functions may be combined within small teams. Regardless, explicitly stating accountability ensures gaps get addressed.

Furthermore, security policies detail processes. It ranges from vendor assessments to incident response and vulnerability disclosure. Vendor security guidelines boost supply chain defenses. In addition, comprehensive incident response plans ease rapid containment and remediation when breaches occur. Cyber insurance policies may need to meet policy minima to qualify for coverage.

While creating these documents requires initial effort, subsequent policy maintenance is equally crucial. Regular evaluations identify controls needing refinement. It can be that both internal environments and external threats evolve. Keeping policies current ensures they provide maximal value protecting organizations.

Employee Training and Awareness

Despite potent solutions, the human element remains highly influential in security. IBM’s Cyber Security Intelligence Index pinpoints human error as the catalyst behind 95% of incidents. Train staff on cyber hygiene best practices. Fostering a culture vigilant to phishing attempts can make employees a firewall asset. Regular drills will test efficacy and identify areas needing reinforcement.

Network Security

Alongside training, robust network protections are indispensable. Unpatched vulnerabilities are causing 60% of organizational breaches. This is according to the Center for Internet Security. Thus, promptly installing software and firmware updates is vital. Network segmentation, firewalls, and intrusion systems provide additional security layers. It was highlighted by Fortinet research that 90% of companies face IoT-related breaches. Internet of Things device security cannot be overlooked in the industrial context.

Access Control and Authentication

Well-designed identity and access management controls also significantly enhance security posture. Enforcing the least privilege limits employee access to only essential systems. Multifactor authentication adds another layer of verification before granting system access. Continually tracking and auditing user activity enables swift response. Users can immediately take action when malignant acts are spotted. Adhering to these access tenets shrinks the attack surface.

Data Protection

Myriad regulations mandate that organizations install appropriate data protection safeguards. Depending on the sector, frameworks like HIPAA in healthcare, GLBA in finance, CCPA in California and GDPR in the EU may apply. Neglecting compliance with pertinent statutes can trigger substantial fines following breaches.

Encryption represents one of the strongest data protection mechanisms available. Properly install encrypting sensitive information. That way, only individuals possessing the decryption key can access intelligible data. Even if unauthorized parties get the encrypted data, it remains indecipherable. They require the decryption key to access it. Platform, network and application-layer encryption should protect data both at rest and in transit.

Backing up critical data enables restoration after incidents compromise accessibility or integrity. Secure data backups facilitate continuity of operations during outages. Testing restoration processes ensures confidence in retrieves. Cyber insurance also necessitates documenting backup regimens.

Additionally, minimize data retention to only that required for business or regulatory needs. Doing so limits risk. Routine destruction of unneeded records shrinks the attack surface. That is because users are deleting unnecessary data stores that require protection. Together, prudently managing sensitive information lifecycles demonstrably boosts cyber resilience.

Vendor and Supply Chain Security

Since third-party vulnerabilities can affect partner environments, scrutinizing vendor security is essential. Cloud software providers should demonstrate compliance with standards like ISO 27001. The cybersecurity aptitude of manufacturers supplying hardware must also undergo evaluation. This can reduce tampering risks. Collaborating to address deficiencies enhances the overall resilience of the supply chain.

Incident Response

Despite best efforts, cyber attacks can still occur. Average dwell time before detection can span months according to IBM research. Thus, having an ironclad incident response plan is indispensable. IT teams must swiftly identify, communicate, and contain compromises while warning stakeholders. Afterward, determining root causes and enacting remediations bolsters resilience. Testing plans regularly keep skills sharp as the threat landscape evolves.

Compliance and Regulations

 Depending on the sector, various governmental regulations mandate baseline technical controls. This includes different reporting procedures. For instance, transportation outfits must adhere to TSA guidelines. Meanwhile, healthcare providers answer to HIPAA authority. It is essential to stay aware of relevant directives, as non-compliance can lead to increased penalties after a breach. Regularly auditing and documenting compliance provide evidence of earnest security efforts. This comes in handy if incidents trigger investigations.

Emerging Threats and Industry 4.0 Considerations

The interconnected nature of Industry 4.0 yields great operational efficiencies. But it also expands the attack plane. As more sensors and systems link up, hackers have more targets. Therefore, security cannot be an afterthought – it must become a core design principle guiding innovation. Likewise, cutting-edge protections blunt common phishing, ransomware, and DDoS tactics today. Still, SMEs must keep pace with emerging techniques to avoid becoming victims tomorrow.


In summary, industrial SMEs must make cybersecurity a top priority. Following guidelines around the following makes organizations resilient:

  • Assessing vulnerabilities

  • Training staff

  • Hardening infrastructure

  • Preparing response plans

Budget constraints exist. But this blog outlines affordable essential workings in concert to shield companies long-term. We all must remain vigilant to enable industrial prosperity. Businesses and professionals are collectively responsible for security.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most common cyber threats affecting the industrial SME sector?

Phishing campaigns seeking the following are prevalent industrial SME sector threats today:

  • Access credentials

  • Ransomware disrupting production

  • Compromised IoT devices

Insider actions also pose substantial risks.

What cost-effective cybersecurity measures can resource-constrained SMEs take? 

The following practices will aid companies to maximize value:

  • Free employee security awareness training

  • Enforcing multifactor authentication

  • Network segmentation

  • Regularly backing up critical data

  • Creating incident response plans

What should SMEs do during and after a cybersecurity breach?

Security teams should isolate compromised systems. That way, they can prevent lateral movement. Simultaneously, they should warn staff not to access impacted resources during incidents. Afterward, determine root causes, restore operations, and enact fixes that address identified weaknesses.

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