Ransomware in Manufacturing: 8 Crucial Steps to Protect your Business

According to 2022 Data Protection Trends, 76 percent of organizations reported some form of ransomware attack. But the industry that was targeted the most? Manufacturing.

The term ransomware is nothing new but many business owners don’t realize that these threats are ramping up, and an increasing number of organizations will find themselves being targeted by these costly attacks.

In this article, we explain why manufacturers are the top target for attackers and what steps you can take to protect your business from ransomware.

Ransomware — What it is & How it’s Different

Data, information and employees are no longer contained within the walls of a physical office.  For that reason, firewalls are not hacked as often anymore. Instead, attackers are using ransomware to steal your data.

Ransomware is a type of malware that is used by cybercriminals to get into your system, steal or encrypt your data and demand a ransom for its return or a key to decrypt it. 

What makes ransomware so different from other cyber-attacks is that it has a more deceptive nature to it. Ransomware attackers often gain access to sensitive data by simply asking for it in a way designed to play off the fear and emotion of employees in your organization, often impersonating a trusted source or an unlikely message.

This is usually in the form of innocent-looking emails that are actually malicious attempts to steal or encrypt your personal information. 

With ransomware, organizations are often attacked but have no idea it’s happening until it infects the majority of your connected devices and steals your data.

Ransomware in Manufacturing
The manufacturing industry is the most unique target because every organization plays a key role in the larger supply chain. When one company falls victim to an attack, it affects the entire network.

That’s why attackers feel they have considerable leverage. Since downtime might be the Achilles heel of the industry, any attack that slips through your defenses could be devastating.

Ransomware is now progressing to the point that the Department of Defense (DoD) is planning to release an Interim Rule on the CMMC framework by May 2023 to help combat these frequent and complex cyberattacks.

This now gives manufacturers with a defense contract less than a year to become CMMC compliant.

So if you are a manufacturer with a government contract, now is the time to start understanding these new compliance rules and implementing these steps to protect your business from ransomware.

If you currently have ITAR or NIST 800-171 requirements or if you aren't sure whether you meet the new cybersecurity requirements, you might want to look at getting professional cybersecurity assistance.

‘But My Business is Small, They Won’t Attack Me’
It is a common misconception that only the larger corporations with highly valuable data are the ones that have to deal with ransomware attacks, and up until recently, you would’ve been right about that. 

More and more small- to mid-sized organizations are seeing themselves become targets. 

Attackers also know that small businesses, while they are smaller targets, are more likely to be insecure, making them easy targets.

The bottom line is that it’s increasingly vital to take the steps to continually improve your cybersecurity. While cybersecurity experts will continue to prepare for what may becomethe next big trend in cybersecurity, your organization needs to become laser-focused on your cybersecurity now.

8 Security Measures Every Organization Should Implement

Last year, InsITe’s managed clients had zero instances of successful ransomware attacks.
Here are the same eight steps we used to protect their people and their data. The key to adequate protection is a layered approach.

1. Invest in Cybersecurity Insurance

This first step will help reduce the financial risks involved in cybercrimes and can be especially important if your organization does business online. Cybersecurity Insurance is a good safety net as you implement additional safeguards. 

2. Implement a Modern Security Platform

As ransomware and other cyber-attacks continue to evolve, so do the available security tools. Deploying modern security tools and services will help you with the cybercrimes you know of and those that you don’t. InsITe has developed a comprehensive and proprietary suite of tools and services available in a platform bundle.  (Hint: It’s not just antivirus and a firewall).

3. Backup and Test Regularly

One of the worst consequences of having your data stolen or encrypted is the possibility of never getting that data back. That’s why it’s important to regularly back up your data and test that recoveries are efficient and complete. This limits the downside of a ransomware attack and reduces the amount of downtime or data loss your organization may face if you are attacked. 

4. Keep All Your Devices Up-to-date

All reputable software and hardware manufacturers provide continual security updates for their supported products. There is a reason they do this! For any software or critical hardware in your business, you must make sure they are running on their current updates. 

5. Segment Your Network

This is the “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket” step to cybersecurity. This can include housing your data in different physical locations, or isolating your servers network from your workstation network from your production floor machine network, allowing for firewall rules between the networks. Doing so allows you to specify what workstations can talk to what servers, what servers can talk to what machines, and vice-versa. This way — one bug, one breach, or one ransomware attack, won't shut down all aspects of your organization.

6. Establish Better Anti-phishing Protection

Phishing is one of the most well-known methods for tricking your employees into giving up information they shouldn’t. Phishing e-mails can be anything from a fake message to HR asking for your login credentials to hackers pretending to be large organizations like PayPal or Dropbox and asking for personal information. 

Anti-phishing protection will filter out emails from misspelled domains, identify common phishing spoof emails, and limit who has access to your server or database to prevent a hacker from getting information from you or your employees. 

7. Train your Employees

This is one of the most important steps you can take. The evolution of cybercrimes means that many hackers are getting access to data by simply asking for the login information they need to access it (social engineering). By training your employees, you can teach them about popular attacks, and show them examples of what to look out for, and how to respond if an attack does occur. This step is so important that the Department of Defense listed this as their top step in staying cyber secure once CMMC 2.0 is implemented.

8. Continual Monitoring

Unfortunately, implementing a cybersecurity game plan is not a one-time solution to prevent cybercrimes. This will require continual tests, updates, and monitoring, especially as the most popular times for attacks are overnight and on the weekends. Continual monitoring will help keep your network secure and reduce the possibility of a costly cyber-attack. If you are not on top of it all the time, you are behind.

Where Should You Start?

Knowing the potential risks of a ransomware attack is a good first step on the road to improving your cybersecurity posture. Investing time and resources into improving your cyber hygiene will become increasingly important as time goes on. 

Unfortunately, cybersecurity will never be a “one-size fits all” solution for organizations, so it is important to evaluate your specific systems now and see if you have the internal resources to tackle this yourself or look to hire a fractional cybersecurity service provider.

About the Author

NAMEJustin Platt is the Director of Advanced Engineering at InsITe Business Solutions, Inc., a managed services provider that believes technology is more meaningful when it improves business, improves lives, and creates new success for all. He has more than 20+ years of experience working with a multitude of security and technology platforms for both small and large organizations. He may be reached at

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