Ransomware hit industrial sector the hardest in the third quarter

Ransomware on a red screen
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Ransomware gangs hit the industrial sector the hardest during the third quarter of this year, according to a report by security company Digital Shadows.

The report named the industrial goods and services sector as the biggest target during the third quarter of this year, maintaining a position that it has held throughout 2021. The technology sector came second, followed by construction and materials, legal services, and financial services.

The number of attacks on the industrial sector fell by 42% quarter-on-quarter, however, which the report attributes to diversification. Ransomware groups are now targeting more sectors, it said, adding that many of these attacks seem to be targeting the technology sector, which saw a 29.8% bump in attack volume.

The busiest ransomware group was LockBit 2.0, first seen in July this year. It knocked Conti from the top spot, which it had retained for the first half of this year. LockBit 2.0 hit 203 victims, which was almost triple Conti's count for the third quarter.

The report also highlighted the chaotic nature of the ransomware business. It cited several groups that had disappeared, with some reappearing later or rebranding. This includes REvil, which vanished from the dark web in July and then reappeared. The group's web site went dark again this month following a multinational effort by law enforcement.


How to reduce the risk of phishing and ransomware

Top security concerns and tips for mitigation


Digital Shadows noted the difficulty in using dark web sites, which are limited in speed. This has made it difficult for ransomware groups to leak large data files, causing some to rely instead on the regular web.

The third quarter also saw the Colonial Pipeline attack by the DarkSide group, which was responsible for a ban on ransomware-related discussions from most cyber crime forums. There was also the REvil attack on managed services company Kaseya, and last month's hit on an Iowa farming cooperative.

Even though the Colonial Pipeline attack had caused forums to ban ransomware discussions, there's always another criminal entrepreneur willing to step up. In this case, a new forum called RAMP, dedicated to ransomware, picked up the slack. Digital Shadows' report said it uses the same URL as the Babuk ransomware group's data leak site, and hosts a data leak site of its own called Groove.

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.