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Why Manufacturing Organizations Need to Embrace the Microsoft Security Tools for 24/7 Threat Detection and Response

BY eSentire

November 15, 2023 | 9 MINS READ

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For manufacturing organizations, the introduction of Industry 4.0 and rapid digital transformation have led to remarkable efficiencies but have also expanded the attack surface for organizations and created significant vulnerabilities. In recent years, manufacturing cybersecurity leaders have been challenged with cyberattacks that disrupt critical operations and compromise intellectual property, leading to substantial financial consequences.

In a study conducted by Make UK, The Manufacturers' Organization, in collaboration with BlackBerry a staggering 42% of British manufacturers has fallen victim to cybercrime in the past year.

Moreover, security leaders at manufacturing organizations are struggling to detect, contain and respond to many cyber threats, such as:

Most manufacturing organizations don’t have the in-house expertise and 24/7 coverage to address these cyber risks and need to look to MDR providers that can proactively detect, disrupt, and remediate cyber threats on their behalf before early stage cyberattacks escalate into potentially business-crippling events or trigger punitive procurement penalties.

Additional data from the Make UK and BlackBerry study also revealed that a significant portion of manufacturers have not bolstered their cybersecurity measures, despite investments in digital transformation and connectivity. Alarmingly, nearly 50% of manufacturers find themselves compelled to demonstrate the robustness of their cybersecurity processes as part of contracts and business agreements.

Considering the risks many manufacturers are facing, investing in a robust 24/7 threat detection and response solution is no longer a choice – it's a necessity. 

As such, many forward-thinking security leaders in the manufacturing sector are turning to Microsoft's robust security solutions to maximize their existing investment in the Microsoft ecosystem. By leveraging Microsoft Defender for Office 365, Defender for Cloud Apps and Identity, and Defender for Endpoint, you can strengthen your organization with 24/7 threat detection and response capabilities across your environment while consolidating your cybersecurity tool stack to do more with less.

In this blog, we explore how Microsoft’s suite of security tools can help your manufacturing organization stay ahead of the threat curve and mitigate even the most sophisticated cyberattacks.

Why Manufacturing Organizations Need Microsoft Defender for Office 365

Manufacturing companies conduct business with hundreds of vendors on a daily basis, including original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, distributors, etc. Threat actors can take advantage of this large web of third-party supply chain vendors using social engineering tactics, such as email thread hijacking, phishing scams, and business email compromise (BEC) attacks.

Some common examples of BEC and social engineering tactics targeting manufacturing companies include:

Example #1: “Pay this urgent bill.”

Threat actors often send fake overdue invoices to members of your finance department from email addresses that are spoofed to look like they come from your CFO or even one of your third-party suppliers. The emails are often written to convey a sense of urgency and more importantly, may mimic the language and writing style of the person they’re spoofing to make the email seem more legitimate.

Example #2: “Can you send me these documents ASAP?”

In this scenario, threat actors can use a phishing tactic called email thread hijacking, in which the threat actor inserts their malicious emails within legitimate email threads obtained by exfiltrating the mailboxes from compromised hosts. Since the email was formerly part of a legitimate conversation, it’s much less likely to arouse suspicion. This tactic has been observed on several occasions to deliver information stealing malware like Qakbot.

As a result, manufacturing organizations need advanced visibility to protect their assets and maintain business operations. Here’s how Microsoft Defender for Office 365 can help you secure your organization from phishing and BEC threats:

Why Manufacturing Organizations Need Microsoft Defender for Endpoint

Endpoint security is crucial for protecting all the devices and endpoints within a manufacturing ecosystem, especially considering the increasing demand for production. Your laptops, phones, desktops, servers, industrial control systems (ICS), and IoT devices are all potential gateways for threat actors to gain access to your environment.

Here are some ways MSFT Defender for Endpoint can protect your endpoints:

Why Manufacturing Organizations Need MSFT Defender for CloudApps and Identity

Today’s manufacturing environment is more complex than ever before. A typical manufacturing environment today comprises of on-premises workstations, servers, multi-cloud workloads, and SaaS applications ­– all as a part of IR 4.0!

While IR 4.0 is the future for the manufacturing industry, sophisticated threat actors view it as an expanded attack surface with vulnerable systems and valuable data. Threat actors are increasingly targeting cloud-based SaaS applications by leveraging sophisticated methods like lateral movement within cloud environments to gain persistence and expand their reach across an organization’s infrastructure. Once inside, they can exfiltrate data, manipulate resources, launch ransomware attacks, or even disrupt critical business operations.

Here are some key features of Defender for Cloud Apps and Identity:

Engage an External MDR for Microsoft Provider to Maximize Your Microsoft Investment

Once you’re ready to take advantage of the cybersecurity capabilities available as part of Microsoft’s security suite, it’s important to assess whether you want to take a DIY approach or engage an external Managed Detection and Response (MDR) provider to manage your new toolset.

For many teams, taking a DIY approach isn’t realistic given the level of security expertise and resources you need in-house that needs to be able to provide 24/7 coverage. Therefore, we recommend engaging an MDR provider that can provide you with complete visibility across your Microsoft ecosystem, 24/7 threat detection and investigation, and complete response capabilities to reduce the risk of business disruption.

Prior to engaging the MDR provider, consider whether they hold any Microsoft Security Competency certifications that represent their expertise in managing and working with the platform. We recommend choosing an MDR provider that is a Microsoft Security Solutions Partner and one that belongs to the Microsoft Intelligent Security Association (MISA) and has achieved Microsoft verified Managed Extended Detection and Response (MXDR) solution status.

Learn how eSentire MDR for Microsoft can help your team stop cyber threats across your Microsoft ecosystem by booking a meeting with an eSentire cybersecurity specialist.


eSentire, Inc., the Authority in Managed Detection and Response (MDR), protects the critical data and applications of 2000+ organizations in 80+ countries, across 35 industries from known and unknown cyber threats by providing Exposure Management, Managed Detection and Response and Incident Response services designed to build an organization’s cyber resilience & prevent business disruption. Founded in 2001, eSentire protects the world’s most targeted organizations with 65% of its global base recognized as critical infrastructure, vital to economic health and stability. By combining open XDR platform technology, 24/7 threat hunting, and proven security operations leadership, eSentire's award-winning MDR services and team of experts help organizations anticipate, withstand and recover from cyberattacks. For more information, visit: www.esentire.com and follow @eSentire.

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