A Data-Driven Call to Action

The Weekly Report – February 21, 2022
Cybercriminals are at your door, and they aren’t likely to knock before entering.

When manufacturers see that cybersecurity has seized yet another cover of Enterprise Minnesota® magazine, they might think “OK. I get it.” To them I say, I hope so.

Ever since horror stories about digital security started popping up, some unsolicited, in our State of Manufacturing focus groups a couple years ago, we suspected the issue could become a strategic gamechanger, much as when we first started hearing about the worker shortage a dozen years ago.

The newest story, “Cyber Insecurities” features a panel discussion in which Bob Kill, our president and CEO interviews three local experts–Kevin Pomeroy at USI Insurance Services, Shalin Johnson from Marsh McLennan, and Jeff Olejnik at Wipfli–who all shared the same heightened urgency for manufacturers. If I may sum it up, “Cybercriminals are already at your door, and they aren’t likely to knock before entering.”

Start with this: One credible industry organization predicts that cyber thieves will be stealing $10.5 trillion a year by 2025, enough aggregate revenue to qualify them as the third-largest economy in the world, behind only the U.S. and China.

Some manufacturers hear these staggering numbers, and say, “why would they bother with a little guy like me when they can go after CVS or Medtronic?” It is precisely that attitude that prompts cyberthieves to go after you. CVS and Medtronic know their vulnerabilities and have shored up their defenses. Cyberthieves know full well that attacking 10 small underprepared victims will be as lucrative as a single Fortune 500 heist, with far less hassle.

They also know that small and medium-sized manufacturers who have just had their plant’s production shut down will also feel the most pressure to pay a ransom in short order.

The panelists all agreed that companies need to create companywide awareness of their vulnerabilities. Any step that makes it easier for employees, vendors, or customers to access their systems, opens that same door for cyberthieves. Every personal laptop or smartphone that accesses their system represents a vulnerability.

Bob said it best after the interview when he predicted that “cybercrime will become the biggest threat facing manufacturers within the next half-decade. We’ve talked about how cyber-talk in recent focus groups mirrors the way some manufacturers started to squirm at the first long-term prospects of worker shortages. It can’t happen to us, right? Wrong. Rest assured that this is not hyperbole. Consider it, ironically, a data-driven call to action.”

Look for the full feature story in our magazine due to publish on February 24th.

Events Calendar

February 24 – Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement – North Branch
Join us IN PERSON in North Branch, MN for a manufacturing workshop with expert Ally Johnston on ways to integrate lean thinking throughout your organization by developing a culture of continuous improvement. At Lakes Region EMS in North Branch  Learn more and register

March 2 – State of Manufacturing regional event: Marshall
Join us in Marshall as we bring the State of Manufacturing on the road. Great networking opportunity for manufacturers and industry stakeholders as we discuss the SOM results and what they mean for Southwest Minnesota. In-person at the Landmark Mercantile Building, Marshall  Learn more and register

March 10 – Automate with Purpose – Mankato
Automation is often seen as a way to alleviate a shortage of workers, but is often fraught with challenges and pitfalls. Greg Langfield will show you how to take a systematic approach that will save cost and support your long term productivity goals. In person at Courtyard by Marriott-Mankato.  Learn more and register

March 22 – State of Manufacturing regional event: Becker
Join us in Becker as we bring the State of Manufacturing on the road. Great networking opportunity for manufacturers and industry stakeholders as we discuss the SOM results and what they mean for Central Minnesota. In-person at Pebble Creek Golf Club, Becker  Learn more and register

Industry News

Brainerd lakes area manufacturers offer $1,000 scholarships
Current high school students are encouraged to apply for a new $1,000 manufacturing scholarship to help cover costs in earning a post-secondary certificate or degrees in manufacturing. February 15, Pine and Lakes Echo Journal  Read more

Stratasys donates cutting-edge 3D printers to U of M lab
Stratasys Ltd., a leader in polymer 3D printing solutions, is sponsoring the University of Minnesota Visible Heart Laboratories with a donation of printers for student, physician education and med device research. February 14, MBTmag.com  Read more

Public assistance, building lease to help Cirrus grow production in Duluth
The airplane maker expects to hire at least 80 more workers as part of a production expansion into a vacant aircraft maintenance and overhaul facility. February 16, Duluth News Tribune  Read more

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