The firm’s Global Threat Intelligence Report 2018 found that finance was the most targeted sector worldwide, accounting for 26 percent of attacks, including ransomware, phishing denial-of-service and other techniques.
Banks were notably hit by denial-of-service attacks from the Webstresser and IoTroop botnets, among others, during the period covered.
In the UK, the manufacturing sector was hit by almost half of all attacks, at 46 percent, double the figure for attacks on manufacturing across the EMEA region.
Most of the attacks on UK manufacturers came from China, which was the source of 89 percent of attacks in the sector, NTT Security said.
Technology organisations followed in second place in the UK, with 23 percent, and business and professional services were third with 10 percent.
Finance ranked only fourth in the UK with 8 percent, followed by government with 5 percent.
The figures are derived from more than 6.1 trillion logs, covering 150 million attacks.
Jon Heimerl, senior manager of NTT Security’s Threat Intelligence Communication Team, said industrial organisations are increasingly using advanced technologies that are seen as key for competitiveness, making those technologies attractive targets for hackers.
Attacks on manufacturers sought to steal intellectual property, disrupt operations and hijack networks in order to launch attacks on other organisations, Heimerl said.
“There’s no one thing driving this trend, but a whole host of interconnected reasons,” he said.
The NCSC warned last month of attacks targeting supply chains in order to compromise other organisations, and in January the agency warned that critical industries faced an increased risk of attack.
China top attack source
China was the top attack source across all sectors in EMEA last year, rising sharply from 2016, when the country ranked ninth in EMEA attack sources, accounting for less than 3 percent of EMEA attacks.
EMEA was the only region where China was ahead of the US as a source of attacks, NTT Security said.
The country was in the top five as a source of attacks in all of EMEA’s most attacked industries, and accounted for 67 percent of attacks on manufacturing across EMEA.
Most of the Chinese attacks on UK industry were from an IP address that had previously been identified as hostile, NTT Security said.
Business and professional services ranked third worldwide as a target, and ranked first across EMEA.
Hackers attacked such services seeking confidential or personal data, the report said.
It found ransomware attacks rose by 350 percent from 2016. Such malware spread faster than previously, with WannaCry affecting 400,000 machines in 150 countries in a single day, NTT Security noted.
Europe was disproportionately affected by ransomware, which represented 29 percent of malware attacking EMEA systems, compared with 7 percent worldwide.
Locky and WannaCry alone represented 45 percent and 30 percent of the ransomware variants detected by NTT Security’s threat intelligence centre.