14 December 2011

Manufacturing is the third largest targeted industry for cyber attacks

Symantec's latest Intelligence Report reveals that the number of daily targeted attacks has increased four-fold compared to January this year. On average 94 targeted attacks were blocked each day during the month of November.

The recent Duqu threats were created to gather intelligence data from industrial control system manufacturers. The creators of Duqu had access to the source code of Stuxnet, and were looking for information such as design documents that could help them mount a future attack on industrial control facilities.

Further analysis reveals that in the U.S. at least one attack is being blocked each day, and that one in 389 users may be the recipient of such an attack. Contrast this with Australia where at least one attack is blocked every three days, and may only be sent to one in 1,139 individuals.

The public sector has been identified as the most frequently targeted industry during 2011, with approximately 20.5 targeted attacks blocked each day.

The chemical & pharmaceutical industry was second highest ranked, with 18.6 blocked each day. In this latter case, many of these attacks surfaced later in the year, and fit into the profile described in the Nitro attacks.

Similarly, this is also the case for the manufacturing sector, which was placed third most-targeted with approximately 13.6 attacks blocked each day.

“The aim of these targeted attacks is to establish persistent access to the targeted organisation’s network, in many cases with the aim of providing remote access to confidential data.

"They have the potential to cause serious damage to an organisation and in the long term represent a significant threat against the economic prosperity of many countries,” said Paul Wood, senior intelligence analyst, Symantec.cloud.

“Targeted attacks are designed to gather intelligence, steal confidential information or trade secrets, and in the case of attacks like Stuxnet, disrupt operations or even destroy critical infrastructure.”

The table alongside shows the frequency and ratio of attacks per user in the most frequently targeted regions.

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