Premium Associate Member Spotlight: ASK

This article appeared in the May 2020 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.

Technology is an amazing tool. It can foster unprecedented business growth, increase process efficiency, attract next-generation talent and turn your company into a global leader in innovation. However, it can also become a catastrophic weakness that gives cyber criminals access to your intellectual property and customer data and allows for one human error to devastate your future.

As a cyber security and IT management consultant, Lansing-based ASK helps manufacturers leverage their tech to help do more business while protecting them from every type of breach.

“Manufacturing has, is and will continue to be the lifeblood of Michigan — we are highly committed to the industry and admire the people who roll up their sleeves and make things,” said Mike Maddox, president of ASK. “With that said, most manufacturers don’t realize how vulnerable their business can be even as they invest in technology solutions meant to make them more competitive.”

Cyber criminals like the ones Maddox and the ASK team deal with can be the stereotypical “evil geniuses” as they continuously adapt to even the most state-of-the-art security, sometimes changing their tactics by the hour.

“It’s really a game of cat-and-mouse with the web being full of people who are looking to do harm, exploit and extort without a care as to who is on the other end of that attack,” explained Maddox. “Because of that, manufacturers who rely on internal IT staff — most of whom have to juggle cyber security with an array of other job requirements — will find themselves hopelessly outgunned and even more vulnerable.”

The more proactive you are, the better you can halt an attack. And, according to Maddox, an attack is almost guaranteed. Small businesses make up 58 percent of cyber-attack victims and, with the average breach costing a US manufacturer nearly $8 million and taking on average nearly 200 days to identify a breach, this is not a threat to be taken lightly.

With three out of every five breached businesses forced to shut down, manufacturers face a choice — invest in safeguards to prevent an attack from happening or scramble to stop the bleeding after the fact. And, unlike the misguided myth, being proactive isn’t as costly as you think.

“There is an enormous mis-conception that cyber security protection has to cost a fortune. The truth is that it doesn’t; you just need to be willing to allocate the right resources in advance of a breach,” said Maddox. “We hear far too often that cyber security protection isn’t needed because of cyber insurance policies. That is a very reactive mindset though. It’s only going to help you if you experience a breach, but keep in mind that it can’t help your brand reputation or get back the data that was exposed.”

You’ve put years, decades and maybe generations of sweat equity into making your business something to be proud of — why throw that all away?

“It’s about asking how much the future of your business is worth,” Maddox continued. “You don’t want to be one of the businesses that invest more money in their annual coffee supply or their cleaning services than they do on cyber security and are then surprised when they get targeted. Inaction can cost you everything. Invest in the right resources and ask the right questions. We’re ready to help you.”

Premium Associate MemberASK is an MMA Premium Member company and has been an MMA member since June 2016. Visit online: