Modern manufacturing’s growing connection to information technology makes it increasingly vulnerable to debilitating cybersecurity attacks, according to a former White House official.

In a column for The Hill, Sridhar Kota said manufacturers are not taking the threat seriously enough, and that the nation needs a plan. Kota served as the assistant director for advanced manufacturing at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from 2009-2012 and is now a director at the think tank MForesight.

Cybercriminals have plenty of ways to hurt manufacturers: corrupt their data, steal intellectual property, sabotage industrial equipment, and disable communications. The threat is also broader than ever before because manufacturing is linked with information technology and the Internet of Things.

“Much like Japanese competition gave rise to a new quality culture in US industry in the 1980s, the hacking threat can and should give rise to a new culture of care and vigilance today,” Kota argues. “Cybersecurity defenses — including new cybersecurity certification programs—can help companies build their competitive advantage.”

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