As Ransomware Attacks Increase, Supply Chain Emerges as the Newest Weak Link

2017 saw a worrying increase in ransomware and other cyberattacks targeting the supply chain, with the business and professional services sector receiving a significant increase of attacks, particularly in the EMEA region, which saw 20% of all attacks targeting this sector. This is according to Dimension Data that published its Executive Guide to the NTT Security 2018 Global Threat Intelligence Report.

The businesses and professional services sector received 10% of global ransomware attacks, the third most targeted industry (up from the sixth position in 2016), behind finance and technology. It also ranked third in the Americas (9%) and was the most vulnerable sector in EMEA, receiving 20% of all attacks.

As ransomware-related outsourced incident response engagements against financial institutions declined (a drop from 22% in 2016 to 5% last year), the business and professional services supply chain has clearly become a prime target for trade secrets and intellectual property theft, potentially exposing customer and business partner data.

Despite the drop in outsourced incident response engagements, the finance sector remains the number one target for cybercriminals who carry out regular reconnaissance to spot potential infrastructure and application vulnerabilities.

Mark Thomas, Dimension Data’s Group CTO for Cybersecurity said, “There are numerous moving parts to supply chains and outsourcing companies, which often run on disparate and out-dated network infrastructures, making them easy prey to cyber threat actors. Service providers and outsourcers are also a prime target, due to their trade secrets and intellectual property. Businesses need to wise-up to the very real threats against them, and ensure all aspects of their operations are robustly and securely protected.”

Technology was the second most cyber-attacked industry in 2017, with a 19% attack volume, with business and professional services moving to the third place. Interestingly, attacks on the government sector last year dropped to 5% from 9% in 2016. In 2017, there was a massive 350% rise in ransomware, representing 7% of all global malware attacks (up from 1% in 2016), and is set to continue due to the popularity of cyber adversary campaigns.

Other highlights in the NTT Security 2018 Global Threat Intelligence Report include:

  • The technology and finance sectors account for 70% of all attacks in the Americas. The US is a world leader in technology innovation while the finance sector collects and stores a vast amount of personal data which cybercriminals can monetise
  • Education was the most attacked sector in Australia (26%). With an open network model and collaborative environments that enable connectivity and research between students, campuses, colleges, and universities, this is a valuable target.
  • Attacks on the APAC manufacturing sector have dropped to a mere 7% (32% in 2016), because of the adoption of enhanced security governance and proactivity in raising cyber defences.  

“In Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA), ransomware accounted for nearly 30% of cyber attacks compared to the global average of 7%. EMEA was also the only region in which ransomware was the number one type of malware due to various cyberattack campaigns, including the WannaCry and NotPetya epidemic,” said Mechelle Buys Du Plessis, Managing Director – UAE, Dimension Data.

“New regulations, an alarming spike in ransomware attacks, and an uncertain geopolitical picture all contributed to unique cybersecurity challenges for the EMEA region over the last year. The business and professional services sector was the most targeted sector in EMEA, representing 20% of all attacks. This sector includes organisations such as service providers and outsourcers, making them a prime target for theft of trade secrets and intellectual property. If left unprotected, organisations may have their customer and partner data/credentials exposed. These can be used by cybercriminals to remotely access infrastructure, unimpeded,” Du Plessis concluded.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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