As our world becomes increasingly digitized, the risks associated with doing business online increase as well. Cyberattacks are becoming more dangerous and widespread, creating devastating impacts on businesses, such as financial loss, reputational damage, and operational disruptions. While all types of businesses can fall victim to cyberattacks, some industries are more vulnerable than others, including:
The healthcare sector has always been a magnet for cyberattacks for several reasons. For starters, healthcare is a $3 trillion industry, making it a prime target for cybercriminals looking for massive payouts. Secondly, the healthcare industry contains a wealth of sensitive information like medical records, insurance details, and Social Security numbers.
Such data is incredibly valuable to cybercriminals who can use it to commit identity theft, run insurance scams, and steal prescription medication. Alternatively, they can simply sell medical records to the highest bidder on the black market.
Another reason why healthcare is a top target is that many organizations within the sector still use outdated technology. This makes them particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks like ransomware, a malicious software that encrypts systems and data until a ransom is paid for their release. If the ransom is not paid, the attackers may threaten to permanently delete or release sensitive information to the public.
Since not paying can have life-threatening consequences, many healthcare organizations often cave to cybercriminals’ demands. Unfortunately, 61% of healthcare organizations were not confident in preventing ransomware attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. Financial services
The financial services industry is another favorite target of cybercriminals because it holds valuable data, such as credit card and banking information. If hackers steal this information, they can perform fraudulent wire transfers and drain their victims’ bank accounts.
Financial services companies often have the resources to invest in top-quality cybersecurity software, but they are still vulnerable to human error. That’s why phishing scams are one of the biggest threats to this industry. Phishing uses seemingly harmless emails to trick unwitting staff members into disclosing sensitive information. These emails may impersonate legitimate companies and key executives to increase the chances of deceiving employees.
Government agencies and offices are vulnerable to cyberattacks due to the classified data they collect and store. If this information were to fall into the wrong hands, it could be used to disrupt public institutions and harm vulnerable individuals. Recently, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has sparked fears that state-sponsored cyberattacks involving network-based intrusions and malware attacks could spill over to US government agencies.
Schools and universities often manage sensitive data about their students and staff. This includes information about grades, disciplinary actions, or medical conditions. Most school databases also aren’t as thoroughly secured against advanced threats, making them an easy target for cybercriminals. What’s more, students may not be fully aware of cybersecurity best practices, increasing the school’s exposure to cyberattacks.
5. Critical infrastructure
Companies in the critical infrastructure sector provide essential services that keep our society running. Examples include power grids, internet services, and water utilities. As a result, these organizations are often targeted by cybercriminals seeking to cause widespread disruption. In 2021, for instance, a ransomware attack completely halted Colonial Pipeline, causing massive gas shortages across the US East Coast. Given how various state-sponsored cybercriminal groups are developing more sophisticated attacks, these types of attacks are likely to occur again.
How can businesses better defend themselves?
No matter what industry you’re in, protecting your business against cyberattacks requires a multilayered approach. This involves updating your systems and implementing strong security measures, such as firewalls, anti-malware software, and advanced threat protection software. You also need to minimize security liabilities caused by your employees with regular security awareness training. Finally, it is important to have a robust data backup and recovery plan in place so that you can quickly and effectively respond to any attacks.
If doing all this sounds overwhelming, you can always rely on Athens Micro. We’ll make sure your cybersecurity systems are up to par with world-class solutions and support. Call us now to protect your business.