BlackBerry: many manufacturers are still working with outdated or unsupported IT systems


Outdated and unsupported operating systems make manufacturers vulnerable to nationwide cyberattacks. The new BlackBerry Manufacturing Cybersecurity Study reveals the severity of this problem, with 86% admitting to running core functions on such operating systems.

The BlackBerry survey was conducted in March 2023 by Coleman Parkes among 1,500 IT decision-makers and cybersecurity professionals in North America, the UK, Germany, Japan and Australia. It shows that IT decision-makers in the manufacturing sector are most concerned about malicious malware attacks (56%), followed by phishing attacks (49%) and inadvertent unauthorized access by employees (45%). BlackBerry, a provider of intelligent security software and services, therefore concludes that manufacturers are more concerned about nationwide threats aimed at disruption and unplanned downtime than at extracting a ransom payment.

Financial impact

Security risks also have financial implications. For example, 65% of the IT decision-makers at manufacturing companies believe the cost of a cyber breach to be US$250,000 or less. Nearly half (47%) of the respondents estimate that business downtime represents only one-tenth of that cost, 63% believe that cyber incidents can lead to a loss of customers and 59% refer to the effect on supplier relationships. Notably, 68% of respondents state that operational technology (OT) infrastructure is difficult to secure, while 86% admit to running core functionalities on outdated and unsupported operating systems.

Barrier to progress

“Over the past year, three cybersecurity trends have significantly impacted OT and Internet of Things infrastructure: ransomware attacks, phishing attacks and vulnerabilities in third-party software,” comments Shishir Singh, Chief Technology Officer of the BlackBerry Cybersecurity Business Unit. “Cyber risk in OT is quickly becoming a barrier to progress. Many managers are shackled by aging hardware and outdated operating systems and are struggling to unify security across old and new, to forge ahead with modernization and digitization initiatives. With aged and isolated equipment, the truth is it’s difficult to protect these environments — but it’s not impossible,” he states.