More than two-thirds (68 percent) of manufacturing companies hit by ransomware attacks globally had their data encrypted by hackers, a report showed on Tuesday.

This is the highest reported encryption rate for the sector over the past three years and is in line with a broader cross-sector trend of attackers more frequently succeeding in encrypting data.

However, in contrast to other sectors, the percentage of manufacturing organizations that used backups to recover data has increased, with 73 percent of the manufacturing firms using backups this year versus 58 percent in the previous year.

Despite this increase, the sector still has one of the lowest data recovery rates, according to the report by Sophos, a global leader in cybersecurity.

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“Using backups as a primary recovery mechanism is encouraging, since the use of backups promotes a faster recovery. While ransom payments cannot always be avoided, we know from our survey response data that paying a ransom doubles the costs of recovery,” said John Shier, field CTO, of Sophos.

With 77 percent of manufacturing organizations reporting lost revenue after a ransomware attack, this added cost burden should be avoided, and priority placed on earlier detection and response, he added.

In addition, despite the growing use of backups, manufacturing, and production reported longer recovery times this year.

In 2022, 67 percent of manufacturing organizations recovered within a week, while 33 percent recovered in more than a week. This past year, only 55 percent of manufacturing organizations surveyed recovered within a week.

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“Longer recovery times in manufacturing are a concerning development. This extended recovery is negatively impacting IT teams, where 69 percent report that addressing security incidents is consuming too much time, and 66 percent are unable to work on other projects,” said Shier.