Printers, publishers draw most cyber litigation among manufacturing peers

By Erin Ayers on August 8, 2014

The manufacturing world has become more of a target in recent years. A new look at cyber-related cases affecting the manufacturing industry shows the number of cases rose dramatically in 2010 and has remained at that level for the past three years, according to Advisen’s Loss Insight database.


The bigger the company, the more likely it is to be a target, the data showed. Firms with revenue of over $5 billion towered above others in case count (see graph below), with the next largest revenue range of $1 billion to $5 billion not even coming close. The manufacturing category includes such tech giants as Sony Playstation – target of one of the largest data breach attacks – and Apple, Inc., elevating both the revenue totals and the exposed data. Other smaller manufacturing firms had fewer losses, but in two cases, managed to run afoul of federal telecommunications privacy laws, as in the case of Lucky Brand Jeans and Steve Madden, a shoe designer.


Tobacco companies were shown to have the most frequent occurrence of cyber-related cases, although not the most expensive cases nor the largest number of affected parties. Those dubious honors seemed to belong more to the computer equipment or technology manufacturing firms. Tobacco companies were closely followed by printing, publishing and allied industries, and then by transportation equipment.


Printers and publishers drew more litigation than all other sectors of the manufacturing industry (see graph above), followed by apparel manufacturers and leather product makers. The reason for the high tally of cases for printers and publishers may be related to the possibility for libel/slander/defamation that might occur during a breach. Advisen created the chart by normalizing the number of cases that have gone into litigation.


Overall, manufacturing (in red, above) ranks as the fifth largest affected industry. The services industry came in as the most-affected industry, followed by finance, insurance and real estate; public administration; and wholesale and retail. Manufacturing was ahead of mining and construction and the transportation and communications sector.


Manufacturers were most frequently attacked via the server (30.24%); website (19.35%); and laptops (17.89%). Other sources of loss were much less frequent. Interestingly, despite concerns over mobile devices and cloud computing, smartphones, tablet and cloud data have not presented much in the way of losses as yet. Data showed several incidences of insider attacks against company computer systems in a few cases at Cisco Systems, Exel Transportation Services Inc., and AOL.

Manufacturers generally experienced the loss of personally identifiable financial information of customers (46.12%) as well as violating personal privacy (35.04%). The corporate loss of digital assets and business income were significantly lower (9.75% and 9.09%, respectively).'

Erin is the managing editor of Advisen’s Front Page News. She has been covering property-casualty insurance since 2000. Previously, Erin served as editor-in-chief of The Standard, New England’s Insurance Weekly. Erin is based in Boston, Mass. Contact Erin at [email protected].