Manufacturing companies store a vast amount of sensitive data, including customer information, employee data, and intellectual property, such as product schematics and formulas, making them a sizable target for cybercriminals.

Unfortunately, while businesses in the manufacturing industry have gone to great lengths to safeguard their systems with layers of firewalls, anti-malware programs, password protections, and countless other measures, data breaches still occur.  

When the worst scenario happens and your manufacturing company is hit by a data breach, you need to have a plan in place. Don’t fret. This guide will equip you with the knowledge to tackle a data breach effectively. 

What is a data breach?

A data breach refers to any security incident wherein unauthorized entities obtain access to confidential data, such as financial information, Social Security numbers, healthcare records, and employee records. Data breaches can occur because of human error (e.g., an employee fails to secure a file) or malfeasance (e.g., hackers use malware to steal data). In addition, data breaches can be entirely physical (e.g., physical documents are stolen or copied without permission) or digital (e.g., hackers become privy to information stored in the cloud).

How do you respond to a data breach?

Responding to a data breach can be broken down into three phases:


As soon as you realize a data breach has occurred, you must act immediately and decisively to prevent any further data exposure. At this stage, you should: 

  • Isolate the threat: Shut down affected equipment and isolate compromised portions of your network. This prevents the breach from spreading and allows for a thorough investigation.  
  • Deploy your breach response team: This team typically comprises communication experts, cybersecurity professionals, IT specialists, and legal counsel. Their combined expertise ensures a comprehensive and coordinated response. Always have the roster of your breach response team prepared well ahead of time, with reliable contact numbers listed and alternates selected in case a primary member is unavailable.
  • Stop the data flow: If there is unauthorized data traffic you should take immediate steps to halt it. This could involve changing access credentials, patching vulnerabilities, or even taking affected systems entirely offline.
  • Secure physical premises: During a physical data breach, restrict access to areas where sensitive documents or devices are located. Change access codes as needed, and secure any paper records or devices containing sensitive information.
  • Collect data: As much as possible, you need to keep a record of the incident. Do not leave any detail out, as even the littlest detail may help with the resolution and investigation. 

Repair and recovery 

Once you’ve contained the immediate threat, you can focus on repairing the damage and restoring your systems. In this phase, you should:

  • Investigate the breach: Work with your breach response team or a third-party forensics organization to determine the cause and scope of the breach. By identifying the vulnerabilities that were exploited and the data that was compromised, you can develop strategies that will prevent future breaches of a similar nature.
  • Patch vulnerabilities: If the investigation shows that the breach was caused by a vulnerability, address the root problem immediately. This might involve updating software to the latest versions that include security patches or implementing stricter access controls such as multifactor authentication. You may also need to enhance the security protocols for your network and devices by integrating robust measures such as endpoint security.  
  • Recover data: Having an extensive and reliable data backup and recovery system is critical in recovering any compromised data. Make sure you store data backups securely, and regularly test your recovery procedures to ensure they will work as planned, ensuring business continuity and minimizing downtime.
  • Review security measures: Use the findings of the investigation to review your overall security posture. Leverage this opportunity to identify and address any weaknesses in your existing perimeter security and cyber defense strategy.  


As a manufacturing company, you are required to disclose the breach to parties affected, including customers, vendors, business partners as soon as possible. As part of the notification process, you need to consider the following:

  • Legal requirements: Because data breach notification laws vary from state to state and, according to the type of data exposed, you should consult with legal counsel to understand your specific notification obligations.  
  • Law enforcement: Report the breach to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Their assistance can be invaluable in investigating the incident, potentially recovering stolen data, and possibly apprehending those responsible for the breach. 
  • Affected individuals: The law requires you to notify individuals affected by the breach. Do so promptly and clearly explain what information was exposed and what steps they can take to protect themselves. In addition, you may also offer free credit monitoring services to help them identify and address any fraudulent activity.  
  • Affected businesses: If your breach impacted any third-party businesses, such as partners and suppliers, notify them as well. This could involve informing them of compromised data they may have stored on your systems or warning them of potentially fraudulent activity.  

Prepare your manufacturing business for data breaches and other cyberthreats by speaking with a PCA Technology Group expert. We can help you establish stringent security measures and effective data backup and recovery strategies to ensure your business survives any disaster. Contact us today.