Manufacturing sector continues to be an attractive target for ransomware and other cyber attacks perpetuated by cybercriminals, a new report by advanced cybersecurity solutions company, Sophos, has revealed.
Sophos published the new sectoral survey report titled “The State of Ransomware in Manufacturing and Production,” which found that the sector had the highest average ransom payment across all sectors — $2,036,189 versus $812,360, respectively.
In addition, 66% of manufacturing and production organizations surveyed reported an increase in the complexity of cyber-attacks, and 61% reported an increase in the volume of cyber-attacks when compared to the previous year’s survey. The increase in complexity and volume is also 7% and 4% higher than the cross-sector average, respectively.
“Manufacturing is an attractive sector to target for cybercriminals due to the privileged position it occupies in the supply chain. Outdated infrastructure and lack of visibility into the OT environment provides attackers with an easy way in and a launching pad for attacks inside a breached network,” said John Shier, senior security advisor, Sophos.
The convergence of IT and OT, Shier notes, is increasing the attack surface and exacerbating an already complex threat environment. “While having reliable backups is an important part of recovery, today’s ransomware threat requires a detailed response plan that includes human-led threat hunting capabilities,” he said, adding that complex attacks require comprehensive protection, which, for many organizations, will include the addition of managed detection and response (MDR) teams who are trained to look for and neutralize active attackers.
While manufacturing and production had the highest average ransom payment, the percentage of organizations that actually paid the ransom was among the lowest across sectors (33% versus 46% for the cross-sector average).
Additional findings from the survey include that the manufacturing and production sector had the lowest attack rate, tied with financial services, with only 55% of organizations surveyed targeted by ransomware.
However, the percentage of manufacturing and production organizations hit by ransomware increased by 52% over the previous year’s report (up from 36% in the 2021 survey report).
The sector also had the lowest encryption rate (57% versus 65% for the cross-sector average) and only 75% of those surveyed reported having cyber insurance—the lowest percentage across all sectors.
In light of the survey findings, Sophos experts recommend that all organizations across all sectors install and maintain high-quality defenses across all points in the environment and review security controls regularly and make sure they continue to meet the organization’s needs.
The experts also recommend proactively hunting for threats to identify and stop adversaries before they can execute attacks – if the team lacks the time or skills to do this in-house, outsource to a Managed Detection and Response (MDR) team.
The IT environment also ought to be hardened by searching for and closing key security gaps: unpatched devices, unprotected machines and open RDP ports, for example. Extended Detection and Response (XDR) solutions are ideal for this purpose.
They also advise that organisations prepare for the worst, and have an updated plan in place of a worst-case incident scenario. This involves making backups, and practice restoring them to ensure minimal disruption and recovery time.
The State of Ransomware 2022 survey polled 5,600 IT professionals in mid-sized organizations across 31 countries, including 419 respondents from the manufacturing and production sector.