Chris Swagler | September 16th, 2023


The menace of ransomware has grown exponentially over the years, impacting a wide range of sectors across the world. No organization is immune, regardless of its size, prominence, or industry. Ransomware attacks often lead to debilitating consequences, including data loss, operational disruption, financial loss, and reputational damage. While numerous sectors have suffered from these attacks, some have become particularly prominent targets due to a combination of vulnerabilities, financial incentives, and critical infrastructures. This article sheds light on the top 14 ransomware targets in 2023 and beyond, emphasizing the need for comprehensive cybersecurity measures.

Industries Targeted By Ransomware

  1. Media, Entertainment, and Leisure: The Vulnerable Creative Space – The media, entertainment, and leisure sector has witnessed a staggering increase in ransomware attacks, rising 147% over the previous year. Publishers, broadcasters, and entertainment companies face disruptions that affect their ability to deliver content, resulting in financial losses and diminished public trust. Recent incidents involving Macmillan Publishers, Cox Media Group, and Sinclair Broadcast Group underscore the vulnerability of this sector.
  2. Retail: Consumer Data Under Siege – With 77% of retail companies suffering ransomware attacks, the retail sector faces an alarming risk to customer data security. Ransomware attacks targeting retailers like FatFace and Coop have not only led to financial losses but have also disrupted operations and shaken consumer confidence.
  3. Energy and Utilities Infrastructure: Critical Systems Under Threat – Ransomware attacks on oil, gas, and utilities companies, impacting three in four organizations, pose significant dangers. The ability of cybercriminals to target critical infrastructure and disrupt operations raises concerns about national security and public safety.
  4. Distribution and Transport: Supply Chains at Risk – Distribution and transport companies, targeted in 74% of cases, face attacks that disrupt supply chains and delivery systems. Notable attacks on companies like Maersk highlight the ripple effects of targeting logistics.
  5. Business, Professional, and Legal Services: Critical Data in Jeopardy – Often relying on outdated systems, the business, professional, and legal services sector is increasingly targeted. Ransomware attacks can compromise sensitive client information, hamper operations, and lead to significant business fallout.
  6. Healthcare: Vulnerability Amidst a Crisis – The healthcare sector, grappling with security vulnerabilities, is exploited by cybercriminals, especially during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Attacks on medical institutions can lead to life-threatening situations, as seen in the Düsseldorf hospital attack.
  7. Higher Education: Intellectual Property at Risk – Higher education institutions, targeted by 64% of attacks, face intellectual property theft and operational disruptions. Attacks on schools like Howard University and the Savannah College of Art and Design underscore the far-reaching impact of these incidents.
  8. Construction and Property: Building Under Siege – Construction and property businesses, experiencing an attack rate of 63%, must safeguard blueprints, plans, and confidential data. Attacks on firms like Marcus & Millichap and Bird Construction reveal the sector’s vulnerability.
  9. IT, Technology, and Telecoms: Tech Titans on the Radar – The IT, technology, and telecommunications sector, with 61% attacked, is at risk due to its reliance on digital infrastructure. High-profile targets like Acer and Quanta Computer demonstrate the far-reaching implications of these attacks.
  10. Central and Federal Government: Critical Institutions Under Attack – Governments, targeted by 60% of attacks, face disruption of critical services and data breaches. High-profile incidents in Costa Rica and Ireland showcase the potential for widespread impact.
  11. Local and State Government: Challenges to Public Services – Local and state governments, facing a 71% year-over-year increase, must maintain public services amid ransomware attacks. The Suffolk County incident highlights the potential compromise of emergency services.
  12. Lower Education: Learning Institutions at Risk – Lower education institutions, targeted in 56% of attacks, risk-sensitive student and employee data being stolen. High-profile attacks on school districts like Los Angeles Unified School District raise concerns about data breaches and operational disruptions.
  13. Manufacturing and Production: High Ransom Payments, Swift Recovery – Manufacturers, attacked at a rate of 55%, are vulnerable to ransom demands due to their critical role in supply chains. While facing high ransom demands, this sector boasts swift recovery rates due to robust incident response.
  14. Financial Services: Systemic Threats and Financial Stability – The financial services sector, targeted in 55% of attacks, faces systemic risks that could disrupt economic stability. Attacks on companies like CNA Financial underscore the potential for catastrophic financial impacts.

The pervasive threat of ransomware knows no boundaries. While specific sectors might seem more attractive due to vulnerabilities and potential financial gains, every organization is a potential target. Ransomware attacks can lead to catastrophic consequences, from data loss to operational shutdowns. The only way to combat this threat is through comprehensive cybersecurity strategies, including robust backup systems, employee training, network segmentation, and proactive threat monitoring. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, organizations must remain vigilant and prioritize cybersecurity to protect themselves and the data of their stakeholders.

At SpearTip, our certified engineers continuously monitor data networks of various industries at our 24/7/365 Security Operations Center for potential ransomware threats and are ready to respond to incidents at a moment’s notice. Our ShadowSpear Platform, an integrable managed detection and response tool, uses comprehensive insights through unparalleled data normalization and visualizations to expose sophisticated unknown and advanced threats. SpearTip offers two types of tabletop exercises: Executive and Technical. Executive tabletop exercises are custom-designed to strengthen the collaboration among business leaders and promote a common understanding of how leadership teams respond to an incident. Technical tabletop exercises are designed to review current IR policies and procedures by engaging your team in specific scenarios that test their analytical and remediation capabilities in the event of an incident.

If your company is experiencing a breach, call our Security Operations Centers at 833.997.7327 to speak directly with an engineer.


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