Nectec develops open-source cybersecurity for small manufacturers

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Nectec, the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre, is in the process of creating an open-source Security Operation Centre (SOC) as a service for potential partners. This initiative predominantly targets small businesses in the manufacturing industry, offering them affordable cybersecurity options.

This service model requires partners to invest in cloud computing and threat intelligence data. It is designed to be a cost-effective solution for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), who can avail of it through a subscription-based model. Currently, three factories are testing the SOC service.

Nectec identified an escalating risk in the manufacturing sector due to the blending of operational technology and information technology. This fusion results in more interconnected machinery, thereby expanding the target surface for potential cyber threats. This cautionary note was delivered by Panita Pongpaibool, deputy executive director at the centre, during a cybersecurity seminar.

Operational technology (OT), pertains to the computing and communication system that oversees and controls industrial operations. As per cybersecurity firm SOCradar, Thailand holds the ninth rank in the list of most targeted nations for manufacturing industries.

The threat of ransomware is a global concern, with 28% of all ransomware attacks in 2023 aimed at the manufacturing sector. Additionally, in the first half of 2023, 40% of all cyber incidents related to manufacturing were part of global supply chain attacks. The notorious ransomware groups LockBit 3.0 and 2.0 were the key players in this sector, reported Bangkok Post.

Thailand houses around 70,000 factories, 90% of which are SMEs. Nectec perceives the SOC-as-a-service to be an apt fit for mid-sized organisations, especially those in the electronics and automotive sectors with a large supplier base in their supply chains.

Funding, development

Data from Fortinet and Frost & Sullivan in 2022 revealed that 88% of Thai manufacturers had experienced at least one attack in the preceding year. These attacks caused disruptions in 53% of cases, and 89% of Thai manufacturers took a few hours or longer to recover. In 82% of these incidents, the attacks impacted their OT systems, said Panita.

“We received a grant of US$30,000 from Information Society Innovation Fund Asia to develop the service by using open source tools.”

Nectec is keen on making the SOC-as-a-service cost-effective. The average price for such services ranges from 3-10 million baht (US$83,543-278,477), which is prohibitively expensive for many SMEs.

Distributed denial of service and ransomware are the top two threats for manufacturers to monitor, according to Chalee Vorakulpipat, head of information security research at Nectec. He emphasised the importance of developing cyber literacy to tackle cyber-attacks.

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