Just over one in five manufacturing firms reported a loss of intellectual property in a cyber attack in the past year, a survey of almost 4,000 IT managers in 27 countries has shown.
Intellectual property (IP) includes any type of information that will give a company competitive advantage, such as plans for a product launch, trade secrets like a chemical formula, company contact lists, marketing and sales strategies, computer code and business plans.
Malware is the most common cause of data loss for manufacturers, accounting for 23% of the most serious incidents, according to the survey conducted by security firm Kaspersky Lab.
Other losses of IP were ascribed to software vulnerabilities (8%), network intrusion (8%), information leaked on mobile devices (5%) and targeted attacks (3%).
The survey revealed intellectual property and internal operational information are the two types of data that manufacturers most fear losing.
The survey report notes that, in a highly competitive global economy, competitive advantage is often based on IP gained through costly research and development.
This means loss of IP could quickly erode a company’s competitive advantage and lead to bankruptcy.
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Attacks on IP are often highly targeted, aided by insiders and go undetected for years, according to a Verizon report on IP theft published in October 2012.
In nearly half (48%) of the cases analysed in the report, the time it took to discover the compromise was typically months and sometimes years.
Kaspersky Lab is developing what it describes as the first secure operating system for industrial control systems.
The security firm currently offers a custom-designed version of the company’s endpoint security software for manufacturing and industrial settings.
Kaspersky Lab also offers the Kaspersky Industrial Protection Simulation to help organisations train for cyber-attacks that could affect the infrastructure of their facility.
In June 2014, UK business secretary Vince Cable called for international collaboration to fight piracy and counterfeiting, saying national efforts to protect intellectual property are insufficient.
He said there was a direct link between economic performance and IP theft, with every 1% increase in IP crime estimated to cost the UK economy 1% of GDP, which works out at £1.7bn.