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Small Manufacturing Firms are a target for attacks

Cybersecurity incidents targeting the manufacturing sector rose significantly in the second quarter of 2020, accounting for more than a third of detected attacks, up from 11% in the first quarter of the year, cybersecurity-services firm Rapid7 states in its latest threat report.

About three-quarters of the incidents affecting manufacturers targeted seven small firms, which Rapid7 did not name in its report. The only other sector where the majority of attacks targeted smaller firms was finance. The attacks do not seem to be state-sponsored espionage attacks but mainly attempts to infect a manufacturing firm's network with ransomware, says Wade Woolwine, a principal security researcher at Rapid7.

The most common tactics include credential stuffing using valid accounts, various forms of deception, and vulnerabilities in third-party software, Rapid7 says in its latest quarterly threat report.

Aside from attackers' focus on manufacturing, the most significant aspect of the second quarter is the enormous shift in employees working from home, and so attacks are shifting to credential-based attacks on cloud services and virtual private networks, and to spear-phishing-based attacks on end users, Woolwine says.

"They are going to continue to target the end user, certainly, because we are all distributed and not in our corporate environments," he says. "And with all the security researchers working from home, we may see another major vulnerability."

When characteristics of the threats detected in the second quarter are mapped to the MITRE ATT&CK framework, the top techniques used by attackers were the use of valid credentials, using deception or masquerading to fool defenses, and using third-party software as a vector of attack. 

Rapid7 also saw a significant 8,000-node botnet attempting to compromise Internet of Things (IoT) devices running the secure shell (SSH) service — such as web servers, home routers, digital cameras, and video recorders

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