Let’s face it: Any industry could be subject to a cyber attack. Hackers are always on the lookout for an easy target. However, some industries are more vulnerable than others. The distinction is typically based on the potential profitability. How much data can a hacker steal? How much damage can be done? And how much ransom can be asked for when an entire system is breached?
If your business falls into one of the following five categories, take heed. You’re at the center of the bullseye. The biggest payback. The largest ransom. And ultimately, the bigger headline in tomorrow’s newspaper.
- Financial Services
It’s no surprise that hackers will target the source of the money. What is surprising is that financial services businesses take an average of 233 days to detect and contain a data breach, according to the 2021 Data Risk Report by Veronis. It’s no wonder more and more hackers prefer this industry.
Cyber risks have increased dramatically for the financial services industry in recent years, most notably due to digital transformation. Banks and financial institutions struggle to keep pace with changing technology—banking apps, storing data in the cloud—which can compromise security.
Noteworthy financial breach: In June 2022, Flagstar Bank, one of the largest financial providers in the US, endured a massive breach. Social Security numbers, banking information, and personal data of nearly 1.5 million customers were stolen by threat actors.
The healthcare industry is particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks due to the wealth of Personal Identifiable Information (PII) their systems store. When PII is loose in the wild, identity theft occurs. In fact, nearly half of all U.S. citizens became a victim of some form of identity theft in 2020.
Even more alarming are the healthcare-related ransomware attacks. When hospital systems are held hostage, this type of attack directly impacts the health and well-being of patients. Doctors can no longer access patient records or medical history.
Recent healthcare breach: Texas-based OakBend Medical Center suffered a ransomware attack in September 2022, forcing the hospital’s IT department to take all systems offline and put them in lockdown mode. The hospital is currently working to rebuild its communication systems.
The pandemic and the new work-from-home workforce had a dramatic effect on most industries, but it opened the door wider for hackers in the educational industry. With the push for online learning, universities were forced to allow access to systems and networks, which increased risk.
Most universities and educational institutions already suffer from diminishing budgets, which directly correlate to inadequate staff and security systems.
Recent education breach: The Los Angeles Unified School District suffered a ransomware attack at the beginning of the 2022 school year. The malware infected networks systems, forcing the school to shut down computers in order to stop the malicious software from spreading further.
- Energy and Utilities Industry
Sometimes hackers are interested in more than money and data. A widespread power outage, one that affects millions of citizens, can show the world just how much control hackers can have over our lives. If they can successfully access entire power grids or nuclear facilities, the results could be detrimental.
A recent report by FireEye warns that threat actors and “hacktivists” will target energy companies in response to perceived controversies. As these critical infrastructures become more connected and more reliant on technologies, they become more vulnerable.
Noteworthy energy and utilities breach: In one of the biggest ransomware attacks of 2021, Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the US, was taken down by hackers, which led to gas shortages along the East Coast.
- Government Agencies
Like the healthcare industry, government agencies hold a wealth of PII, which motives hackers. According to the 2022 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report, cybercriminals focused more attention on local, state, and federal governments in 2021. Ransomware, cryptojacking, and IoT malware were among the leading types of governmental attacks.
In 2018, only 68 percent of U.S. states had a documented and approved cybersecurity strategy. In March 2021, the Department of Homeland Security issued a plan to tackle government-level cybersecurity issues focused on the growing concern of ransomware.
Protecting Your Industry
As cyber attacks become more prolific, businesses, regardless of industry, must crack down. Here are just a few steps to take to secure your data and help protect your business against an attack.
- Limit access: Only give employees access to the data they need to complete their jobs. Phishing, combined with a lack of cybersecurity training for employees, is a top way hackers infiltrate a business.
- Train your employees. Cybersecurity threats change daily, and your employees can’t possibly stay on top of the latest threat actor scam. Cybersecurity training keeps your employees informed and alert.
- Continuous monitoring: The adage, “it’s not if you’ll get breached but when” rings true when you look at the daily headlines. No business is 100 percent safe from hackers. But you can limit their exposure to your networks and systems with continuous monitoring, which alerts you immediately of unauthorized activity.
- Assess third parties: Your own internal cybersecurity efforts are only as good as those of your third-party vendors. Third-party data breaches cost a business on average $4.33 million, which is a lot more costly than a third-party assessment platform.
Don’t Be the Next Headline
See your business as a hacker see it—as a target. Schedule a short demo of ProcessBolt’s risk assessment platform, including our continuous monitoring module, ThreatScape, and learn how easy and cost-effective it is to reduce your chances of being the next data breach.