Report finds ransomware hitting manufacturers hardest

Wannacry ransomware screen on a desktop monitor

Manufacturing companies are the most likely targets of double-extortion ransomware attacks, according to a report from research team ThreatLabZ this week.

In a double-extortion attack, criminals not only encrypt data but steal it too, enabling them to blackmail victims into preventing its publication. ThreatLabZ, ZScaler's research team, noted that 12.7% of the companies affected by these attacks were in the manufacturing sector, followed by services companies. This stood out from a cluster of other sectors who each accounted for between 8 and 9% of attacks: services, transportation, retail, and technology. This report follows a previous study that found a 300% increase in cyber attacks on manufacturing organizations.

ThreatLabZ identified seven ransomware families that stood out as sources of double-extortion attacks. The most common was Maze, which accounted for 273 attacks in the last year. Even though Maze ceased operations in November 2020, it still outpaced the Conti ransomware, which took second place with 190 attacks.

The Ragnar Locker ransomware, which sets up a virtual machine on its target machine, focused the most on the manufacturing sector, with 22% of its attacks hitting those companies.

Doppelpaymer was also focused on manufacturing, targeting manufacturers in 15.1% of its incidents.

Manufacturing was also Conti's top target, attracting 12.4% of its attacks, while Sodinokibi/REvil featured manufacturing and transportation equally as its top target sectors.

ThreatLabz also examined DarkSide, which is of particular interest this week after its use in the Colonial Pipeline attack. The group, which clarified its motives for hitting the pipeline this week, focused only 2.8% of its attacks on the oil and gas sector. Services was its go-to sector, accounting for 16.7% of attacks.

Anti-ransomware company Coveware highlighted a rise in double-extortion attacks in its most recent Q1 ransomware research, which reported that 77% of attacks now featured this tactic, up 10% from Q4 2020.

Danny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury has been a print journalist specialising in technology since 1989 and a freelance writer since 1994. He has written for national publications on both sides of the Atlantic and has won awards for his investigative cybersecurity journalism work and his arts and culture writing. 

Danny writes about many different technology issues for audiences ranging from consumers through to software developers and CIOs. He also ghostwrites articles for many C-suite business executives in the technology sector and has worked as a presenter for multiple webinars and podcasts.