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The instant connection between the packaging industry and cyber security may not seem obvious, but the truth is that packaging professionals need to prepare for the possibilities of ransomware and cyberattacks just as much as other industry leaders. Connectivity has become a necessity in modern packaging production facilities, making it easier than ever for hackers to do what they do best: create panic, chaos, and fear. So what can you do?

Identify Your Vulnerabilities

Consider all of the ways in which your packaging operation is currently connected. Chances are that everything has been optimized with wireless communications, remote access for troubleshooting, automated machinery, and other advanced tools that capitalize on wireless connections to attain higher efficiency, lower downtime, and continual cost savings. It all sounds great, and in many ways it is! But modern technology and reliance upon online systems opens up the opportunity for hackers and criminals to attack your systems.

What Might Hackers Do?

A favorite trick of hackers is the use of ransomware. This is a type of cyberattack that holds your digital property or services ransom until you pay a defined figure. Some criminals hold up their end of the bargain and undo their damage once the ransom is paid, while others disappear with the money and leave you to pick up the pieces of your cyberattack. Of course, Equifax and Target have been the most recent victims of cyber criminals looking to steal data.

What Actions Can You Take?

Hackers don’t target specific companies; instead, they exploit vulnerabilities in existing systems. In the packaging and processing sectors, Industrial Control Systems like SCADA cause the most vulnerabilities. The FBI offers a seven-step strategy available to help system owners identify and prevent cyberattacks. Suggestions include application whitelisting, ensuring proper configuration and patch management, reducing attack surface area, building a defensible environment, managing authentication, monitoring and responding to activity, and implementing secure remote access.

According to available data, 98 percent of incidents can be prevented using these tactics, and the other two percent of attacks can be successfully identified with increased monitoring and strategic incident response.