Top 5 Industries Vulnerable To Cyber Attacks
According to the FBI, the year 2020 marked the beginning of a meteoric rise in the number of cyber-attacks around the world. Following the Corona pandemic, the widespread use of the internet for operations that were once conducted physically has led to a 300% increase in cybercrime.
And indeed, in recent years, cybercrime is beginning to receive more and more public attention after high-profile cases- from hospitals that were shut down to presidential elections that could have ended differently.
Although most hackers don’t target a particular organization and look for available vulnerabilities that will create destruction regardless of the victim’s identity, experts warn against industries that are at particularly high risk for hackers due to various factors. Here are the five industries that are at the highest risk for cyber attacks.
This list can be controversial in part, however, all professionals agree that small organizations are the most vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The VERZION 2019 report states that 43% of all cyber attacks on businesses are directed at small organizations
The biggest threat to small organizations is a phishing attack – an attempt to steal sensitive information by impersonation. It is a method of deception that aims to cause the user to act, usually clicking an attached link, that will endanger their computer.
A study by the UK government reports that 83% of every organization in the private sector that has experienced a cyber attack has detected a phishing attack.
Most organizations should be on alert for these phishing methods:
Email Phishing -Emails that seem to have come from a reliable source (generally Facebook, eBay, etc.) like professional organizations, institutions, and service providers, but were sent from a malicious hacker. These emails use corporate language, company logo, and even the original typography – methods that raise the credibility and persuade us to believe in the legitimacy of these emails.
Spear phishing- similar to email phishing, only in this case the hackers target a small group of people, sometimes for a single purpose. The attacker collects information about employee names in a particular department and impersonates a known entity, such as a service provider working with them or an IT team. In this case, the email is personalized.
Whaling- A sub-category in spear-phishing directed towards CEO and upper management.
An equally common and deadly threat to small businesses is Malware – malicious code created by a hacker in order to gain access to the corporate network, steal and destroy information or devices. The malware is designed to permanently destroy files or steal them for economic or ideological motives.
These programs are often downloaded from insecure websites, phishing messages or connection with infected devices. Small and medium-sized businesses can get a death blow from these programs, as the destruction of the devices can entail huge financial costs, or give those hackers access to the information and endanger the company’s customers.
The Health Industry
Hospitals, HMOs, and private practices- Any entity that holds medical information of its patients has become a popular target for hackers. In 2019 alone, 90% of all healthcare organizations reported cyber hacks that were successful in the configuration of DDOS attacks, malware insertion, ransomware, and more.
However, the situation has only worsened since the outbreak of the corona pandemic- from 2020, cyber attacks on the health industry have doubled compared to 2019, a third of these attacks being ransomware attacks. These attacks encrypt the user’s data, organizational data or personal data, and deny access until the ransom payment is made.
There are several types of ransomware:
Encryption- This type of malware locates files that seem important to the user – texts, documents, images, PDFs,s and more. It encrypts the information, thus preventing access to it. When the victim is an individual, the ransom usually amounts to several hundred dollars, and the requirement includes a transfer of the payment for up to 72 hours, otherwise, the data is permanently deleted.
Lock- When the user is locked out of the device, and the ransom message appears on the screen.
Scareware- Perhaps the most cynical of them all, this attack mimics software that scans for security issues, such as antiviruses, and alerts us of critical findings. The error messages that appear to detect faults mimic legitimate antivirus software, and give a sense of reliable source by providing the IP address and geographic location information, or using the names of reputable and trusted companies. Afterward, access is denied until the victim allows the malware to repair these issues, for an additional fee.
DoxWare- Ransomware that threatens to leak victim’s data to sites on the Dark Web. the attacker might sell this information or leak it to sites for free.
The Energy Industry
Attacks on electricity, gas and water systems returned to the headlines following the war in Ukraine and the repeated cyber attacks by Russian hackers on Ukraine’s energy systems. But the energy industry has long been a top target both for nationalist hackers, who are trying to wreak economic and political destruction against states and governments and for cybercriminals who are trying to extort a ransom. The fact that some of these systems include old hardware and software, infrastructures that were laid many years ago and are now difficult to replace, creates a unique opportunity for vulnerabilities.
This may come as a surprise to some readers, but higher education institutions are being attacked by hackers more often than expected, with 62% of reported malware cases coming from the academic sector, according to a Microsoft report. From spam or malicious ads, and 10% were ransomware attacks.
Academic institutions keep sensitive data regarding students and faculty, such as social security numbers, passwords and addresses, as well as information about the research carried out in the various departments – information that can be used for industrial espionage. In recent years hackers have been able to disable more and more learning systems, affecting millions of students around the world.
According to a report by Varinos, financial organizations are one of the most vulnerable to cyber attacks due to the large number of exposed files, which allow server breaches and information theft. In 2021, 67% of all financial institutions reported an increase in cyberattack attempts on them. The Corona plague has created an opportunity for hackers to take advantage of the increased use of digital services and increase user privileges in favor of cyberattacks. Digital banking has increased Trojan horse attacks on apps, creating a landing page for users to enter their bank accounts, and stealing user credentials and login information without the victim’s knowledge.
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