Manufacturing Industry & Mobile App Security

The manufacturing industry has a history of struggling to adopt new digital technologies. While technologically advanced in many areas, many manufacturers have fallen short of embracing digital infrastructures, integrations, and analysis systems to improve product development. 

In 2017, for example, the NotPetya ransomware attack affected many global companies, including Merck, a pharmaceutical manufacturer. This attack resulted in production delays costing the company hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. 

NotPeya exploited a vulnerability in the manufacturer’s accounting system, which Merck was still using despite a lack of security updates. This incident highlights the importance of maintaining up-to-date cybersecurity measures for manufacturers in a rapidly evolving technological landscape. 

Fortunately, the manufacturing industry is already beginning to undergo significant changes as part of the Industry 4.0 digital revolution, within which it is incorporating cloud computing and analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and AI machines. 

This will likely result in more efficient and secure systems for the industry in the future. Mobile app technology is also a critical aspect of Industry 4.0.

Even now, manufacturers are ditching outdated legacy systems and deploying modern manufacturing apps to overcome maintenance, poor security, and inflexibility issues.  Progressive manufacturing companies already use mobile app technology to improve their products, reduce downtime, and streamline processes. 

But what kinds of apps are being developed for the manufacturing industry, and what are the dangers of poor app security practices? What steps can developers follow to secure mobile applications? Let’s find out.

The Contribution of Mobile Apps to Boosting Manufacturing Productivity

Mobile applications are helping the manufacturing industry in various ways, from tracking inventory to providing quality control, assessing real-time data, and managing production processes. Some of the apps that are developed for manufacturing companies include:

→ Production Management

These apps aid in improving production lines, inventory levels, and work orders. In addition, they help manufacturing companies by providing real-time visibility to track production progress, find bottlenecks, and make informed decisions regarding optimizing production efficiency.

Maintenance Management

These apps help manufacturers monitor equipment performance, maintenance schedules, and downtime. They also aid in identifying potential maintenance issues and enable proactive measures to prevent machinery failure.

Quality Control

These apps provide real-time data on quality control and assist manufacturing companies to maintain consistent product quality. They also provide real-time data on compliance and inspection checklists that help companies take corrective measures to enhance product quality.

Supply Chain Management

These apps aid in managing supply chains for manufacturing enterprises. They also provide real-time visibility into shipping status, inventory levels, and delivery schedules. Real-time visibility helps manufacturers reduce shipping costs and delivery times and optimize inventory levels.

The High Stakes of Mobile App Security for the Manufacturing Industry

Although mobile apps assist the manufacturing industry in every process, poor mobile security development practices are a menace. They lead to data breaches, cyberattacks, and unauthorized access to sensitive data. Repercussions of stunted development in mobile app security include:

Unauthorized Access

Mobile apps used by the manufacturing industry involve sensitive data, such as personal information, trade secrets, and intellectual property. If the data lacks adequate encryption and user authentication, hackers may exploit these vulnerabilities. 

In 2013, a third-party vendor’s poor security measures enabled hackers to breach Target’s network. The result was unauthorized access to the personal information of 70 million customers and 40 million credit cards. 

For manufacturing companies, the cost associated with data breaches, legal penalties, and reputational damage is unimaginable. It can leave a long-lasting effect on their bottom line.

Merck serves as a prime example of how costly the repercussions of a data breach can be. The 2017 ransomware attack cost it $870 million in regulatory filings. Moreover, the pharmaceutical company could not meet its production demand for the whole year’s stock of cervical cancer vaccine. It had to buy $240 million worth of stock from the Pediatric National Stockpile.

Product Quality, Non-Compliance, and Downtime Issues

If a manufacturer’s production management or quality control app is compromised, it can result in lost revenue and production downtime. Moreover, a compromised app can lead to defective products and delays in meeting production deadlines. 

A good example is the 2020 ransomware attack on Honda. The invasion took advantage of a remote access system vulnerability, causing significant downtime and lost revenue for the company. 

Poor mobile app security development can also result in regulatory non-compliance, leading to legal penalties, costly lawsuits and liabilities, and reputational damage. 

Fortify Security to Secure Mobile Apps in the Manufacturing Industry

Mobile app security developers must follow certain security practices to fortify applications for the manufacturing industry. These practices include:

1. Performing a Security Risk Assessment

Risk assessment during mobile app development is critical to identify potential vulnerabilities and security threats. The review must cover all aspects of user access controls, authentication mechanisms, network communication, and sensitive data storage. 

Robust authentication mechanisms, such as biometric and multi-factor authentication (MFA), must be implemented to prevent unauthorized app access. Furthermore, developers should ensure that passwords are strong and not easily guessed. 

Apps that use JavaScript are particularly vulnerable to exploitation because JavaScript is usually in the source form. By deploying a tool like JSDefender, developers can monitor and protect the app in real time against attacks like cross-site scripting and SQL injection.

2. Ensuring Compliance With Industry Standards

Developers should also ensure that the mobile apps for manufacturing companies comply with industry standards. Regulations like the International Standard for Information Security (ISO 27001), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) ensure the app code cannot be tampered with or modified.  Compliance means the app meets the minimum security levels and mitigates the risk of penalties.

3. Providing Regular Security Updates

Outdated mobile security apps are more prone to security vulnerabilities and threats. Therefore, developers should provide regular security updates and patches to avert potential hazards and mitigate security issues. 

Additionally, they should also implement secure communication protocols such as HTTPS and TLS to ensure encryption between the app and the server. 

4. Encrypting Critical Data

Critical data such as blueprints, trade secrets, designs, payment information, and client details should be encrypted both in transit and at rest. Doing so ensures that even if a hacker can intercept data, they cannot read it. 

Developers can use a tool like DashO for code obfuscation and in-app protection. It provides layered protection for Java and Android apps and is continuously updated to prevent reverse engineering and vulnerability exploitation by attackers.

Stay Ahead of the Game With Our Proactive Mobile App Security Solution

Poor mobile app security development practices can be lethal in the manufacturing industry, leading to company reputational damage, financial losses, and potential safety hazards. 

That means that as a developer, you must deploy encryption, strong authentication, network communication, regular testing, and compliance measures to prevent potential security threats to mobile apps. 

To help you in the app development process, PreEmptive’s mobile app security solution can provide comprehensive monitoring and security tools for code protection, obfuscation, and encryption. 

Don’t wait to start using the best security practices during app development. Take control of your app security today with a development-focused mobile app security solution. Start a free trial now!