Manufacturing ransomware attacks have become increasingly prevalent in recent years, with both cities and private businesses falling victim to these malicious acts. In the Summer of 2019, the City of Woodstock, Baltimore, and Lake City Florida were all hit with ransomware attacks, causing widespread disruption and financial loss.
While cities are required to disclose these attacks to the public, private companies often suffer in silence, making them an attractive target for cybercriminals. With organized crime groups behind many of these attacks, small businesses without in-house security expertise are particularly vulnerable to manufacturing ransomware attacks. This is a profitable market for cybercriminals, and private businesses with significant financial resources are often seen as lucrative targets.
History of Manufacturing Ransomware
Manufacturing ransomware attacks have a long and complicated history, with many key events contributing to their growth and prevalence. One of the most significant moments in the history of ransomware was the emergence of Cryptolocker in 2013. This malicious software was one of the first to use Bitcoin digital currency to collect ransom money, a feature that quickly made it a favorite among cybercriminals.
The use of Bitcoin allowed ransomware operators to collect money in an untraceable manner, which meant they could carry out their attacks with a high degree of impunity. According to reports, the operators of Cryptolocker were able to net around $27 million between October and December 2013, which marked the birth of the ransomware industry as we know it today.
Since then, the manufacturing ransomware industry has continued to grow at an alarming rate, with the worldwide cost of ransomware estimated to be around $8 billion in 2018. Even more worrying is the fact that this figure is doubling every 12 months, highlighting the scale and seriousness of the problem.
These statistics are a clear indication of the impact that manufacturing ransomware attacks are having on businesses and individuals worldwide. With the number of attacks increasing rapidly, it is clear that organizations need to take steps to protect themselves and their data from these malicious attacks. The consequences of a successful ransomware attack can be devastating, with businesses potentially losing access to their data, suffering financial losses, and damaging their reputation.
How Manufacturing Ransomware Attacks Work
Manufacturing ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and attackers use a variety of techniques to gain access to sensitive data and hold it for ransom. Phishing and penetration of company firewalls are two common methods that attackers use to gain access to computers and networks. Phishing involves sending mass emails that trick individuals into opening files or visiting websites that provide the attacker with access to their computer. Often, attackers use phishing to obtain usernames and passwords or gain access to unsecured software that is vulnerable to intrusion. The other method is to penetrate firewalls by looking for software used internally that is susceptible to intrusion, such as unpatched software or software with significant defects.
Once a manufacturing ransomware attacker has gained access to a computer or network, they typically start by “lurking” in the system for several days. This enables them to move up the food chain and infect other computers on the network, check for confidential data and establish how much the company can pay for their ransom. To do this, attackers often look for income statements and other financial data that can give them an idea of the company’s financial position.
Once the attacker has identified potential targets and assessed the company’s financial resources, they move on to the next stage of the attack. This often involves disabling antivirus, backups, and other IT activities to make it more difficult for the company to recover from the attack. This stage of the attack can take several days or even weeks, during which time the attacker may continue to monitor the network, exfiltrating data and preparing for the next stage of the attack.
In recent years, manufacturing ransomware attacks have become more sophisticated and targeted, with attackers using a range of techniques to gain access to sensitive data and hold it for ransom. These attacks are costing businesses billions of dollars each year, and the problem is only getting worse. It is essential that organizations take steps to protect themselves from these attacks, including investing in security measures, training employees to identify potential threats, and regularly backing up their data to prevent the loss of critical information. By taking these steps, businesses can reduce their risk of falling victim to manufacturing ransomware attacks and ensure that they are prepared to respond if an attack does occur.
Ransomware Attack Activated
When the hacker feels they have all the valuable data out of your system, have identified all the places they can hack and all the backups they can disable, and enough time has passed they activate the attack. I have heard cases where they do this for months.
Some mornings, you come into work and all your computer data is encrypted. None of your word documents can be accessed. Your email history is gone. You have essentially non-functional servers. And there is a message on all computers informing you that you have been hit with ransomware and to contact the attacker to make payment arrangements.
Generally, the ransomware attacker will give you a password and it will work to decrypt all your lost files. They will let the rest of the dark web know that they succeeded in taking a ransom from you or if not, that they succeeded in shutting you down.
Common Types of Manufacturing Ransomware Attacks
- File-encrypting ransomware: This type of malware infiltrates a computer or server and encrypts all the files it can access, making them inaccessible to the user. The attacker then demands payment in exchange for the decryption key that will unlock the files. Some popular file-encrypting ransomware strains include WannaCry, Petya, and Locky.
- Disk-wiping ransomware: This type of ransomware wipes all the data from a hard drive or other storage device, rendering it unusable. Unlike file-encrypting ransomware, disk-wiping ransomware doesn’t offer a way to recover the lost data, even if the ransom is paid.
- Doxware (leakware): This type of ransomware threatens to leak sensitive information stolen from the target organization unless a ransom is paid. Doxware can be particularly damaging for companies that handle sensitive or confidential data, such as healthcare providers, law firms, or financial institutions.
The Impact of Manufacturing Ransomware Attacks on Businesses
The impact of a manufacturing ransomware attack can be severe, both in financial and reputational terms. First and foremost, a business that falls victim to a ransomware attack may have to pay a significant sum to the attacker in order to regain access to their encrypted files or to prevent the leak of sensitive information. In some cases, the ransom demands can run into the millions of dollars.
Beyond the financial cost, a ransomware attack can also cause reputational damage to a business. If confidential customer data is stolen or leaked as a result of the attack, the business may face legal action, regulatory fines, and loss of trust from customers. Even if the data is not leaked, customers may be hesitant to do business with a company that has suffered a high-profile cyberattack.
To mitigate the impact of a ransomware attack, businesses should have robust cybersecurity measures in place, including firewalls, antivirus software, and regular data backups. They should also conduct regular employee training on how to spot and avoid phishing attacks and other types of cyber threats. Finally, businesses should have a clear incident response plan in place that outlines the steps to take in the event of a ransomware attack, including how to communicate with stakeholders and how to recover data.
Your IT team will discover that your backups stopped working weeks or months earlier and that you really cannot recover what you lost. Specialist companies can sometimes decrypt hard drives for you for thousands of dollars, but you will lose much more through the downtime. If cybercriminals know you have a million dollars in the bank, they will ask for a quarter of it.
Unfortunately, there is no way to 100% prevent this attack (aside from reverting to paper and pen for your entire system). There are a lot of different things we can do to mitigate and prevent it. I’ve documented some of that in the blog titled: 4 tips to avoid being a victim of ransomware. You can also visit our page on Managed Security to learn more about how Sabre IT Solutions can secure your systems against this kind of criminal activity.
The prevalence of manufacturing ransomware attacks is increasing globally, targeting both cities and private businesses. Since Cryptolocker’s emergence in 2013, the manufacturing ransomware industry has grown exponentially, with the cost estimated at $8 billion in 2018 and doubling every 12 months.
The attackers use various techniques to gain access to sensitive data, such as phishing and penetration of company firewalls, and once they gain entry, they often “lurk” in the system, infecting other computers on the network, and assessing the company’s financial resources. It is crucial that organizations take measures to protect themselves from these attacks by investing in security measures, training employees to identify potential threats, and regularly backing up their data to prevent the loss of critical information.
Manufacturing ransomware attacks can cause devastating consequences for businesses, such as losing access to their data, suffering financial losses, and damaging their reputation. It is essential to prepare for and mitigate such attacks as the problem continues to escalate.