From retail chains to hospitals, the entertainment industry to the presidential election, no one seems immune from the potential of a cyber-attack. With few stones left unturned by today’s hackers, the need is real for every organization to invest some money and effort into implementing reliable security measures. Yet, many companies that have very valuable data believe they can still do business under the radar of hackers or aren’t big enough to suffer a data breach. As a result, they often do little to arm themselves and become highly vulnerable in the process.
Although most hackers focus less on targeting specific industries and more on locating widespread vulnerabilities that will allow them to wreak havoc, industry experts have pinpointed four at-risk industries likely to get hacked in the coming years. Take a look at what they view as top targets.
1. Small Businesses
While big-name, headline-grabbing data breaches are likely to continue, many hackers are now going small. According to a report by technology consulting firm Kelser Corporation, a surprising 65 percent of cyber-attacks are aimed at small and medium-sized businesses. The reason being, many large companies have the infrastructure in place to guard against cyber-attacks. Small businesses, however, either don’t have the proper resources to thwart an attack or they don’t take cybersecurity as seriously as they should.
A business sector that is especially vulnerable is the small manufacturers that operate as part of a vast supplier network. For example, small shops that do work for the larger defense and aerospace manufacturers to the Federal Government often have classified information and trade secrets that may be prime targets for foreign entities or competitors. A ransomware attack here ― where hackers lock a company out of its own data until a ransom is paid ― could be extremely effective as well as costly to a small manufacturing plant. Such small-business owners are also more likely to pay ransoms to restore their critical data.
The healthcare industry is another prime target for ransomware attacks because of the sheer amount of patient data stored by healthcare entities. Health information is some of the most valuable data on the dark web because it can be used to commit insurance fraud.
It’s also an industry that’s largely still transitioning from paper to digital records. The lack of a digital presence in the field brings with it a lack of cyber-security readiness ― combined with steady cost-cutting measures.
3. Higher Education
When you think of potential targets for hackers, colleges and universities probably aren’t the first to come to mind, however, the higher education industry is another mecca of personal data. From social security numbers, addresses and passwords to loan and bank information, it’s no wonder attacks on colleges and universities are becoming more prevalent.
Classrooms and dorms aren’t all that make up universities. They are also research facilities, laboratories and other entities generally interconnected, making their exposure to hackers greater. Plus, the computer systems operated by institutions of higher learning are designed to promote access with minimal difficulty for students and parents. It’s also true that state-of-the-art cyber protection can far exceed the budgets for many institutions.
Last, but by no means least, is the energy sector. Here, things like the electric power grid and power generation facilities are controlled by technology and communication systems that could be disrupted, hacked or taken over during a cyber-attack to put our economy in serious danger.
Here, too, stretches miles of physical equipment often separated by nothing but uninhabited spaces. All a hacker would need to do is tap into an energy network by driving near it.
How to Improve Your Cyber Readiness
Whether you have an interest in heightening your cybersecurity knowledge or are concerned about the safety of information sharing within your organization or industry, Cybint Solutions has you covered. Our cyber solutions range from literacy, hands-on skills, and advanced specialized education programs to integrated technologies and cyber talent management. We help organizations globally to prepare for the unknowns of the cyber world.