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Manufacturing sector pays highest average ransomware payment

The manufacturing and production sector had the highest average ransom payment across all sectors, according to a new report from Sophos. 

The report, The State of Ransomware in Manufacturing and Production, found 66% of manufacturing and production organisations 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 years 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," says John Shier, Senior Security Advisor, Sophos. 

"Outdated infrastructure and lack of visibility into the OT environment provides attackers with an easy way in and a launching pad for attacks inside a breached network.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.

"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 says. 

"Complex attacks require comprehensive protection, which, for many organisations, will include the addition of managed detection and response (MDR) teams who are trained to look for and neutralise active attackers."

While manufacturing and production had the highest average ransom payment, the percentage of organisations that actually paid the ransom was among the lowest across sectors (33% versus 46% for the cross-sector average).

The report found the manufacturing and production sector had the lowest attack rate, tied with financial services, with only 55% of organisations surveyed targeted by ransomware

However, the percentage of manufacturing and production organisations hit by ransomware increased by 52% over the previous years 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 the following best practices for all organisations across all sectors:

  • Install and maintain high-quality defences across all points in the environment. Review security controls regularly and make sure they continue to meet the organisation's needs
  • Proactively hunt 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
  • Harden the IT environment 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
  • Prepare for the worst, and have an updated plan in place of a worst-case incident scenario
  • Make backups, and practice restoring them to ensure minimal disruption and recovery time
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