What Are the Best Ways to Protect Your CAD/CAM Data?

Computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) files are instrumental in planning and producing various products. However, you may initially overlook the possibility of cybercriminals targeting CAD and CAM files when orchestrating their attacks. A solid data security management plan can prevent data loss and unwanted outcomes. Here are some actionable suggestions.

Ensure Everyone Only Uses Authorized Software Versions

When people with limited budgets need expensive CAD/CAM software, some might turn to the internet to find “cracked” versions of the desired products. Creating a cracked version involves modifying the genuine title to remove a specific characteristic. For example, cracked software may no longer include the screen requiring a person to enter a software key to keep using the program after a free trial.

Cybersecurity researchers found that when people entered specific keywords through Google to find software, including CAD products, some eventually landed on sites containing malware. That was because those dangerous sites highly ranked in Google search results.

More specifically, even though people thought they were downloading cracked software, they downloaded cryptocurrency-mining malware to their computers. The researchers determined that the malware took up significant computer resources, negatively affecting the machine’s performance.

This is an excellent example of how company leaders should make it as easy and transparent as possible for people to get the software they need, whether related to CAD and CAM files or other requirements. If employees don’t have the tools that help them stay productive, they’ll likely find workarounds to get them, even if those attempts may not align with a company’s IT protocols.

Know the Risks of Sharing Files With USB Drives

Your data security management plan should also specify the ideal and non-advisable ways to share CAD and CAM files with other parties. For example, USB drives may seem like simple ways to share the data with others, but they pose numerous risks.

For example, an employee could accidentally leave a USB drive on the table of a coffee shop, in an airport terminal, or within another high-traffic area. That mistake could mean confidential CAD data gets into the wrong hands.

More sinister possibilities exist, too. For example, hackers can reprogram USBs to turn them into virtual keyboards that make malicious changes to systems. Some of the altered USBs can perform more than 1,000 keystrokes per second, harming systems faster than humans working manually.

The good news is that accessibility is one of the primary advantages of using CAD/CAM software. The improved collaboration it provides can promote better communication and shorten manufacturing timeframes. In addition, many software titles have built-in secure sharing features, making it unnecessary to rely on USB drives.

However, a company’s cybersecurity team members should agree on what steps to take to use such options as securely as possible. For example, they might set strong passwords for all shared files or make it so files delete themselves after a specific timeframe or the number of access attempts. That way, authorized parties can get the data without risk.

Work in the Cloud

Many CAM and CAD software providers have cloud-based options. Of course, the cloud is not the best option for every situation, but it’s well worth looking at when security is a priority. Cloud security is typically far more robust than what an on-premises setup can provide.

The leading cloud providers adhere to tight security standards and regularly look for, and patch identified vulnerabilities. They also have uptime guarantees. So if anything goes wrong, you can rest assured there’s infrastructure in place to minimize the disruption and shorten the length of any outages.

You can also use cloud-based security tools. For example, some companies use authentication apps. Those products tell authorized users when and from where attempts to access a cloud-based product occurred. It’s also possible to flag unusual conditions surrounding those efforts to use a service.

Perhaps the security logs show that an employee based in the United States tried to access CAD or CAM data from Malaysia. In that case, the system might alert the IT leader to the unknown location, providing them with the information to investigate the matter further.

However, cloud security solutions will keep companies and data safe once users understand how to activate the features that help safeguard information. Therefore, it’s best to set aside plenty of time to learn how aspects like multi-factor authentication (MFA) work and how to enable them for a CAD/CAM product.

Activate File Safeguards and Activity-Tracking Features

Succeeding with data security management also means relying on CAM and CAD software parts that give you better control and awareness. Start by setting up file permissions relevant to a person’s role. For example, you may let a client view a CAD file but not make changes to it. Try to strike a balance between keeping files protected and making sure people don’t encounter too much friction when attempting to work with files in legitimate ways.

It’s also good to set up activity tracking on any CAD files the company uses or creates. Many software titles have that functionality built-in, but you may need to turn it on or specify what types of activity you can see. Besides supporting better security in your organization, an activity log holds people accountable for their actions while using a program.

Suppose a client wanted to know the thought process behind a recent design change. The activity log could shed light on what happened and reveal the specific parties that made the alterations. Having a dependable system for tracking changes can also help clients feel confident the company has supporting mechanisms that focus on optimizing file security.

Understand the Shared Responsibility of Data Security Management

Many discussions center on the risks associated with insider cybersecurity threats. However, not all such incidents stem from angry employees who purposefully harm a company and its data.

A tired employee could mistakenly send a confidential CAD file to the wrong recipient. For example, workers might leave their laptop bag on a bus seat or have it stolen from a rental car while traveling.

Phishing scams and social engineering attacks are other possible threats.

Consider a case where a worker gets an authentic-looking email from a CAD software provider. However, the message body might warn them that they must provide numerous details, including their passwords, to avoid accessing interruptions.

Keeping CAM and CAD data safe happens at both the company level and on behalf of every person using the information. For example, an employee should have password protection on any sensitive information device. However, the workplace’s cybersecurity procedures should also include using technology to remotely lock or wipe the content from a stolen or lost machine.

In addition to the strategies suggested above, everyone who works with CAD and CAM data must recognize their role in keeping it safe. Treating data security as a team effort will reduce the chances of adverse incidents and help people cooperate safely.


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