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Advancing Digital Transformation in a Time of Unprecedented Cybersecurity Risk

“Our IT/OT collaboration is continuing to grow. But, it does not happen by accident. It takes deliberate, continuous effort to bring the IT and OT groups together.”

— Ken Brown , Director of Cybersecurity and Governance, Milliken & Company

The manufacturing super cycle of investment in the U.S. is underway, bringing a wave of innovation and digital transformation. The smart factory is a question of when, not if, as manufacturers embrace new technologies to make themselves faster, more productive, and more competitive. 

With this comes an additional dimension of connectivity and risk for manufacturers. Cybersecurity is no longer a theoretical threat affecting a few distant companies in other industries but a very real one, hitting their peers, their suppliers, and their own operations.  

Wherever they are on the cyber-preparedness spectrum, they have one thing in common: Their attack surface is increasing with every stage of digitalization. Attacks are more frequent, more sophisticated, and more damaging. 

Impact of OT Security Breaches – 2020 Versus 2023 

If your company experienced an OT breach, what impact did it have on the organization?



Source: Manufacturers Alliance and Fortinet study

Manufacturers have made significant progress in the past few years in terms of prevention, monitoring, and analysis of their own systems. They are also scrutinizing vendors and service providers. But the question remains: Are they moving quickly enough to stay ahead of hackers and organized cybercriminals? 

At this critical stage, the success of information technology/operational technology (IT/OT) collaboration may be the secret sauce deciding whether digital strategies are successful or painful. IT and OT teams need to find ways to share scarce skilled talent and get beyond the mindset of competitive interests to find mutual goals that balance security and operational priorities. 

To better understand how companies are addressing these heightened risks, Manufacturers Alliance Foundation and Fortinet partnered to study their strategies for coping with the new threat landscape, the state of IT/OT collaboration, promising tactics, and barriers to progress. 

This study is based on a survey of 155 U.S.-based mid-Cap to large-Cap manufacturing companies and interviews with IT and OT executives representing a variety of company sizes and industries. It builds on a related study published by our organizations in 2020, allowing us to track where companies have made progress and where they are stalled. In this 2023 study, we have placed particular emphasis on the state of collaboration between IT/OT teams and best practices to enhance OT security. 

Top-level findings reveal that companies have advanced in maturity in terms of security analysis, evaluation, monitoring, and assessment of their own operations and third-party vendors. At the same time, companies struggle with IT/OT collaboration and communication, the availability of skilled talent, and the galloping pace of change. That tempo is too often set by attackers with an appetite for profit and track record of innovation. 

The vast majority of the manufacturers who took part in our study express an increased awareness of the importance of cybersecurity as a business risk and the need to speed up IT/OT collaboration for a competitive advantage. 

View the Report

Frequency of OT Cybersecurity Risk Audits and Assessments

Source: Manufacturers Alliance and Fortinet study

For more information, including a best practices checklist, download the full report.

View the Report

In Partnership with

About Fortinet

Fortinet (NASDAQ: FTNT) secures the largest enterprise, service provider, and government organizations around the world. Fortinet empowers its customers with intelligent, seamless protection across the expanding attack surface and the power to take on ever-increasing performance requirements of the borderless network—today and into the future. 

For more information, visit