Sophos Survey Reveals Alarming Rise in Ransomware Attacks in Manufacturing Sector

Sophos Survey Reveals Alarming Rise in Ransomware Attacks in Manufacturing Sector

Ransomware wreaks havoc on manufacturers, but backups and vigilance are their secret weapons!

A recent survey by cybersecurity solutions provider Sophos titled “The State of Ransomware in Manufacturing and Production 2023” reveals concerning findings in the manufacturing sector. The survey found that 68% of ransomware attacks on manufacturing companies resulted in successful data encryption, marking the highest encryption rate in the past three years.  This aligns with a broader trend across sectors where attackers are increasingly successful in encrypting data.

Interestingly, the survey shows a higher percentage of manufacturing organizations using backups to recover data compared to other sectors. This year, 73% of manufacturing organizations surveyed utilized backups, compared to 58% in the previous year. However, despite this increase, the sector still faces challenges in data recovery, with one of the lowest recovery rates.

Additionally, the manufacturing sector experienced longer recovery times despite the growing adoption of backups. In 2022, 67% of manufacturing organizations recovered within a week, while 33% took more than a week. However, in the past year, only 55% of surveyed manufacturing organizations achieved recovery within a week.

According to John Shier, Sophos’ field CTO, prioritizing backups as a primary recovery mechanism enables faster recovery. He also highlights that paying a ransom doubles the costs of recovery, and suggests a focus on early detection and response to mitigate such costs. The survey data reveals that 77% of manufacturing organizations reported revenue losses after a ransomware attack.

The extended recovery times in manufacturing are a concerning trend. Sophos’ Active Adversary reports, based on incident response cases, consistently show that manufacturing organizations are among the most in need of assistance in recovering from attacks. As a result, IT teams are burdened, with 69% reporting that addressing security incidents is taking up too much time and 66% unable to work on other projects.

Beyond the survey, Sophos curated a three-episode documentary series Think You Know Ransomware? to provide insights on large-scale ransomware attacks. Notably, episode 2 of the series features an interview with the chief information security officer of Norsk Hydro, a major aluminum production company, showcasing the aftermath and investigation of an attack against the company.

Expert advice: How to strengthen defenses against ransomware

To strengthen defenses against ransomware, Sophos experts recommend the following best practices for manufacturing organizations and all industries:

  • Strengthen defensive measures by using security tools to protect against common attack vectors. This includes implementing strong endpoint protection with anti-exploit capabilities and adopting zero trust network access (ZTNA) to prevent abuse of compromised credentials.
  • Implement adaptive technologies that automatically respond to attacks, disrupting adversaries and allowing defenders to react.
  • Ensure round-the-clock threat detection, investigation and response either through an in-house team or a specialized managed detection and response (MDR) provider.
  • Prioritize attack preparedness by regularly backing up data, conducting data recovery drills, and maintaining up-to-date incident response plans.
  • Maintain good security hygiene by promptly applying patches and regularly reviewing security tool configurations.

In a digital battleground where manufacturers are prime targets, ransomware continues to cast its menacing shadow. As organizations grapple with encrypted data and prolonged recovery times, vigilance, backups and swift response become the armor of resilience against this relentless threat. 

Stay fortified, stay secure and safeguard your future.

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Header image courtesy of Freepik

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