Ransomware attacks are hitting heavy industry where it hurts - the wallet

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(Image credit: Avast)
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Ransomware attacks against businesses in the manufacturing and production industries are getting more complex, while the payment demands rise. 

A report from cybersecurity (opens in new tab) experts Sophos claims this sector has had the highest average ransom payment of all - more than $2 million (compared to roughly $800,000 for others). 

Furthermore, two-thirds (66%) of manufacturing and production organizations surveyed said the attacks had gotten more complex, while 61% said the volume grew in the last year. 

Industry importance driving up the price

According to John Shier, senior security advisor, Sophos, crooks are well aware of the importance of this industry in the supply chain and consequently - do not shy from demanding high payouts. 

“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 Outdated infrastructure and lack of visibility into the OT environment provides attackers with an easy way in and a launching pad for attacks inside a breached network. The convergence of IT and OT is increasing the attack surface and exacerbating an already complex threat environment,” Shier said.

“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. 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.”

But organizations in this industry seem to be handling the threat relatively well. They have the lowest attack rate of all industries, with just above half (55%) suffering a ransomware attack. Whether they keep up the good work is a big question, as the percentage of firms hit rose by 52% year-on-year (compared to 36% in the year before). One way they could tighten up is in cyber-insurance, Sophos said. The company found that just three-quarters (75%) of those surveyed reported having cyber insurance, which is the lowest percentage across all sectors. 

Just because hackers demand high payouts - that doesn’t mean that businesses are willing to hand the cash over. In fact, the percentage of organizations that paid the ransom was among the lowest across sectors, Sophos found (33% versus the cross-sector average of 46%).

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.