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Manufacturing ‘most attacked’ sector as cyber threats innovate to exploit

Malevolent actors adding AI and automated attack tools and vulnerability detectors, as patching continues to lag behind attack rates, reveals NTT report.

The manufacturing sector has become the sector most targeted in the UK and Ireland by cyber threats, and now sustains almost 30% of all malicious attacks on those countries.

According to NTT’s 2020 Global Threat Intelligence Report published this week, cyber attackers are evolving their tradecraft with new innovations and increasingly automating their attacks. The report  also highlights the importance of cyber-resilience and security-by-design as cyber criminals further exploit opportunities caused by the prolonged Coronavirus pandemic and Lockdown.

A wide-ranging view of the cyber threats that are impacting industries in EMEA, the Americas and Asia Pacific, the report reveals that threat actors continue to innovate at pace.

Reconnaissance attacks accounted for half of all hostile activity in the UK and Ireland, with web application the next most common form of attack (22%). Reconnaissance activity (60%) was also the most common attack type against manufacturers, followed by web application attacks (36%).

Developing multi-function attack tools and using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities, attackers are investing in automated techniques; 21% of attacks worldwide came in the form of a vulnerability scanner. Despite efforts to layer-up their defences, many organisations are unable to keep ahead of attackers, while others struggle to cover cyber security basics, such as patching existing vulnerabilities, the NTT study found.

Most commonly linked to intellectual property (IP) theft, the manufacturing sector as a whole ‘increasingly faces financially motivated data breaches, global supply chain risks and risks from unpatched vulnerabilities’, according to the report.

Apart from Hong Kong, the UK was the only country in 2020 where Manufacturing topped the list of most attacked sectors, the report’s coverage found: it sustained 29% of all attacks, with the Technology sector second (19%) and Business & Professional Services sector third (17%). Government and Finance made up the other two sectors in the top five.

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