Critical Considerations For IT Security Management In Food Manufacturing

As technology continues to evolve and become more integral to food manufacturing, the need for robust IT security management has become increasingly critical.

The food manufacturing industry is a prime target for cybercriminals because of the wealth of personal data and confidential information that is generated and stored.

In this article we will discuss the critical considerations for ensuring IT security management in food manufacturing and how to raise awareness among food manufacturing businesses.

Robust Access Control Measures

One of the most important aspects of food manufacturing is ensuring the security of the food products being produced.

As such, implementing robust access control measures is critical to maintaining the integrity of the manufacturing process and reducing the risk of contamination.

Strict access control measures help to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive areas and equipment, which could otherwise compromise the quality of the food products.

One of the most basic IT security and risk management access control measures is to implement strong password policies.

This requires employees to create complex passwords that cannot easily be guessed and require frequent updates.

Passwords should not be shared with colleagues, and employees should be trained to recognize suspicious attempts to access passwords.

Regular password changes are also important to minimize the possibility of an attacker gaining access to the system through a stolen password.

Another important measure is multi-factor authentication. This involves requiring employees to authenticate using two or more different factors, such as a password and a biometric factor like a fingerprint or facial recognition.

Multi-factor authentication helps to reduce the risk of unauthorized access, as the attacker will need to obtain both factors to gain access to the system.

Role-Based Access Control is another important measure to consider in food manufacturing. This involves providing access to sensitive areas and equipment based on the role of the employee.

For example, a maintenance worker may require access to certain equipment, while a production line worker may only require access to specific areas of the production line.

By tailoring access rights to specific roles, companies ensure that employees are only granted access to resources and areas necessary to perform their jobs.

This generally improves the IT security risk management and minimizes equipment damage caused by unauthorized access.

Regular Assessments

Vulnerability Scans are typically automated scans used to identify potential weaknesses in a system that could be exploited.

These scans provide an overview of potential risks and vulnerabilities across the entire IT infrastructure. Once identified, organizations should be taking steps to remediate these vulnerabilities and ensuring IT security posture.

Penetration Testing takes vulnerability scanning to the next level by simulating an attack and testing the IT infrastructure’s ability to withstand an attack.

Penetration testing requires a detailed understanding of the system, as it involves looking for potential vulnerabilities and attempting to exploit them.

These tests provide a deeper understanding of the system’s IT security management and can help identify any weak points within the infrastructure.

There are several benefits to conducting regular assessments in food manufacturing. Firstly, these assessments help companies stay ahead of potential data breaches.

With new types of cyber-attacks and tactics continually emerging, regular assessments can help organizations identify and address potential vulnerabilities before cybercriminals can exploit them.

Secondly, regular assessments within IT security and risk management plan can help organizations meet compliance and regulatory requirements.

For example, the food industry must adhere to strict laws and regulations, such as Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations and the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).

Regular assessments can help businesses meet these regulations and protect their reputation. Finally, regular assessments can ultimately save organizations time and money.

As vulnerabilities are identified and addressed early on, organizations can prevent potential damages and avoid costly and time-consuming remediation efforts.

Data Encryption

Data encryption involves converting plaintext into ciphertext to make it unreadable by unauthorized parties.

The process of encryption requires the use of mathematical algorithms and keys to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data.

Encryption can be applied to data both in transit and at rest. Data in transit refers to information that is being transmitted over networks or between devices, while data at rest refers to data that is stored on a device or server.

One way of encrypting data in transit is by using a secure protocol such as SSL/TLS, which provides a secure channel for data transmission.

SSL/TLS uses digital certificates to verify the identity of the parties involved in the communication and to encrypt data to prevent interception or eavesdropping.

Data encryption can also be applied to databases and storage devices to protect them from unauthorized access or theft.

The food manufacturing industry collects and processes an enormous amount of data, including supply chain data, inventory data, and sales data.

This data is often sensitive and needs to be kept confidential to protect the integrity of the business. Given the high volume of data that is generated, it is vital for food manufacturers to implement data encryption practices.

Encryption of sensitive data within the food manufacturing industry protects businesses from threats such as cybercrime, regulatory violations, and data breaches.

By encrypting data, businesses can be sure that only authorized personnel can access their sensitive information.

This, in turn, helps to build trust with customers, investors, and other stakeholders by demonstrating that the business takes data security management seriously.

Network Segmentation

Network segmentation involves dividing a network into smaller subnetworks, each with its own IT security management and access rules.

Implement network segmentation to isolate critical systems and data from less secure areas of the network. This helps contain potential breaches and minimize the impact of cyber incidents. 

There are several benefits to network segmentation in food manufacturing. Firstly, it can help prevent lateral movement.

Once a cybercriminal gains access to a network, they try to move laterally to other systems and data.

By segmenting the network, it limits the scope of a potential breach, making it harder for them to move laterally through the network.

Another advantage is that network segmentation can help reduce the attack surface. By implementing stricter access controls, only authorized personnel will be able to access certain parts of the network. This limits the number of potential entry points for cybercriminals.

Finally, network segmentation can also help improve visibility. By breaking up a network into smaller segments, it becomes easier to monitor and identify unauthorized activity. This improves the ability of IT teams to detect and respond to potential threats.

In order to effectively implement network segmentation, food manufacturers need to follow certain best practices. Firstly, they need to identify the critical systems and data that need to be isolated.

This may include production systems, customer data, and intellectual property.

Next, they need to define access controls for each subnetwork. This should be based on the principle of least privilege, where only the minimum access required to perform a task is granted.

This reduces the chances of accidental or intentional data breaches and strengthens the IT security risk management.

Finally, food manufacturers should regularly monitor and audit the network to ensure that the controls are functioning as intended. This can include running vulnerability scans, conducting penetration tests and reviewing access logs.

Incident Response Plan

A well-designed incident response plan should be tailored to the specific needs and risks of the food manufacturing business.

This plan should be developed by a team of experts who can identify the most common threats, such as hacking, malware, and phishing attacks, and develop a plan that outlines the steps to be taken in the event of an incident.

The first step in incident response is incident detection. This includes a range of monitoring activities meant to identify any signs of a breach before it becomes a more serious problem.

Some common detection methods in the food manufacturing business include network monitoring, access control, and intrusion detection systems.

Once an incident has been detected, the next step is containment. This involves isolating the affected systems and blocking any further attempts to access or exploit them.

This step is important to prevent the incident from spreading to other systems or parts of the network.


The third step in incident response is eradication. This involves removing any malware, viruses, or other malicious software from the affected systems.

This step will require a thorough investigation to identify the cause and extent of the incident. Once the threat has been neutralized, the team can move to the final stage of the response plan.

The fourth and final step is recovery. This involves restoring any affected systems or data to their previous state and ensuring that they are operating as expected.

It is also important to conduct a post-incident review of the response plan to identify any weaknesses or areas for improvement.

Vendor And Supply Chain Confidentiality

In the food manufacturing industry, vendor and supply chain management are critical elements of overall practices.

The industry’s dependence on third-party vendors and supply chain partners for raw materials, transportation, and other essential supplies, can create vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malicious actors.

Consequently, businesses must establish robust safety measures for third-party vendors and suppliers to ensure the integrity and safety of their products and the overall reputation of their brand.

One of the most critical aspects of vendor and supply chain security is the establishment of requirements in contracts with third-party providers.

The contract must outline the safety measures that must be in place before they are allowed to handle data or access systems.

These requirements should include basic measures such as access controls, password protection, and data encryption.

Additionally, the contract should outline the vendor’s data handling processes and procedures and the consequences of breaching data security management standards.

Furthermore, businesses must conduct regular audits of their third-party vendors and suppliers.

The audits should cover access controls, data processing procedures, data storage, and the vendor’s IT systems’ overall security management.

The audit should assess the supplier’s physical, administrative, and technical controls. Any vulnerabilities or issues should be addressed through corrective actions and reviews.

In addition to regular audits, businesses must also establish an ongoing risk management framework that comprehensively assesses vendor and supply chain security risks.

By identifying potential risks, businesses can develop and implement appropriate mitigation strategies that address any potential threats to their privacy.

Employee Awareness And Training

The first step in creating a culture of awareness around confidential data to educate employees about the risks associated with cyber-attacks.

Many employees are not aware of the potential dangers that can result from phishing scams, hacking attempts, and other types of cyber-attacks.

It is important to explain to employees that these attacks can have a significant impact on the business, resulting in financial loss, damage to the company’s reputation, and even legal repercussions.

Once employees understand the importance of data breaches awareness, it is necessary to provide regular training on best practices.

This training should cover topics such as identifying and avoiding phishing emails, using secure passwords, and following security protocols.

Employees should also be trained on how to recognize and report suspicious activity, such as unexpected or unusual system behavior, as well as the importance of keeping software and systems up to date with the latest patches.

The training should be easily accessible and understandable to employees of all levels. It should also be relevant to their specific job roles, as different departments may have different needs and risks.

This can be achieved through a combination of in-person training, online courses, and written policies and procedures.

It is also important to regularly review and update training materials to stay up to date with the latest threats and best practices.

This can involve working with IT professionals, experts, and other industry partners to ensure that the training is relevant and effective.


In conclusion, IT security management is a critical component of ensuring the security and integrity of data and systems in food manufacturing.

Food manufacturing businesses must think about turning to IT security management services, trusted vendors can help conduct regular risk assessments, implement secure access and password management policies, and deploy robust network solutions.

By taking these critical considerations to heart, food manufacturing businesses can improve IT security risk management and protect their data and systems against emerging threats.

Author: Valentin Kuzmenko , Chief Commercial Officer, Andersen Lab