4 Industries That Have to Fight the Hardest Against Cyberattacks

Pierluigi Paganini December 04, 2018

Society’s dependence on internet-based technologies means security professionals must defend against cyberattacks as well as more traditional threats, such as robbers or disgruntled employees.

However, cybercriminals target some industries at disproportionally high rates. Here are four of them:

1. Health Care

Since health care professionals deal with life-or-death situations, cyberattacks could hinder both productivity and patient care to a tremendous degree. Some attacks shut down entire health systems comprising multiple facilities or forcing affected individuals to switch from computerized processes to using pens and paper.

The medical industry faces an exceptional risk for cyberattacks because there are so many players involved in the sector. More than 83 percent of organizations responding to a recent survey reported making new or improved organizational security enhancements.

That’s notable progress, but analysts also worry about the potential for attacks that don’t directly target hospitals or similar organizations. Recent demonstrations from cybersecurity researchers have shown how it’s possible to hack into medical devices like pacemakers or insulin pumps.

There are also instances of hospitals being unable to perform fundamental services. In November 2018, a ransomware attack forced two hospitals to send ambulances elsewhere and only accept walk-up patients to the emergency rooms.

Hackers know they can wreak substantial havoc by attacking hospitals, thereby increasing the potential for notoriety. It doesn’t hurt that those organizations keep medical records containing valuable information hackers could sell on the black market. One instance with North Carolina-based company Atrium Heath potentially breached the data of 2.65 million people.

2. Nonprofit

Nonprofits typically focus their efforts on causes that improve society at large, at-risk groups and others in need. However, cyberattacks could thwart all those intentions to put energy toward the greater good. Research indicates cyberattacks threaten nonprofit organizations for various reasons.

Data from 2017 found only 27 percent of nonprofits broke even that year. So, if nonprofit leaders want to devote more money to cybersecurity, they may feel too financially strapped to make meaningful progress. Plus, many nonprofits have small teams of hired employees and rely heavily on volunteers otherwise. That bare-bones staffing structure could make it harder than average for nonprofits to recover after issues happen.

Also, nonprofits may feel overwhelmed about where to start as they learn about cybersecurity. Fortunately, some products geared toward nonprofits have robust integrated security. Volgistics is a company associated with volunteer management that serves 5,121 organizations. A section on its website details the online and offline measures taken to keep customer data safe.

3. Retail

The retail industry is cyclical, so certain times of the year — including the holiday season or when kids go back to school — are particularly busy. Plus, cybercrime problems could take websites offline or cause reputational damage. Despite those risks, retailers make blunders when budgeting for cybersecurity. A recent report found 50 percent of all data breaches in the U.S. happened at retail establishments.

The study also determined that entities spend the most money on cybersecurity measures considered among the least effective. No matter what, it’s crucial for the retail sector to take cybersecurity seriously. Research from Gemalto found 70 percent of people would stop doing business with companies that suffer data breaches. So, failing to conquer the problem could lead to profit losses in unexpected ways.

4. Financial Services

People rely on banks to do daily transactions for business or personal reasons. And, since financial institutions have extraordinary amounts of money on hand, it’s not surprising they’re prime targets for cybercriminals. Even financial industry businesses that don’t store so many financial resources on site — such as wealth management companies — keep documents filled with clients’ personal details.

The financial sector is also so potentially lucrative for hackers that they may set their sights on carrying out attacks on ATMs in multiple countries. Sources report a North Korean hacking group known as Lazarus is believed to be behind attacks in 23 countries totaling tens of millions of dollars.

There’s an emerging trend of banks hiring ethical hackers to find vulnerabilities and test existing safeguards. That’s a practical way to address cybercrime risks, but it’s an approach that’ll likely become increasingly harder to choose. That’s because there’s already a gigantic cybersecurity skills gap consisting of hundreds of thousands of open cybersecurity positions, and forecasts say the shortage will get worse.


No Industry Is Immune

Any sector that uses the internet to conduct business could become a cybercriminal’s target.

Although the industries mentioned here need to take particular care to prevent issues, proactive steps taken to fix problems and monitor for suspicious issues could keep all companies safer from cybercrime.

About the author

Kayla Matthews is a technology and cybersecurity writer, and the owner of ProductivityBytes.com. To learn more about Kayla and her re

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Cybersecurity, cyberattacks)

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