Common Industries at Risk for Data Breaches
By Matt Brennan
The industries at risk for data breaches are varied. A hacker’s motives will likely determine why an industry, or a specific company is targeted. Understanding their motive and the information that they are after can help your company protect itself from these types of cybersecurity threats.
Some of the reasons that a hacker may attack include:
- Financial gain
- To gain knowledge of current activities through spying
The most frequently targeted industries each offer something for hackers in this respect. Below are some of the hackers’ most common targets.
Top Industries at Risk for Data Breaches
The Financial Industry
The financial industry is routinely a top target for hackers who are looking for financial gain. Banks, insurance companies, and wealth management companies are all at risk. A hacker may use web application attacks to force their way into the system. In a large company, millions of clients may be using the web app at any given time, making these attacks cumbersome, and difficult to track down.
In March of 2019, 2.4 million records from the Dow Jones were exposed. The incident highlighted the need for major organizations to look into vendor risk management. Some hackers may try a different approach. It could be as simple as installing skimmers or card traps on an ATM.
Higher education institutions often funnel money into building renovations and attracting potential new students. They’re focused on large academic projects and research development. Their singular focus in other directions can leave them susceptible to various cyberattacks. Ransomware poses a threat for colleges and universities. They need to develop strong IT departments capable of handling these types of threats in real-time.
K-12 schools are also at risk because hackers understand that there won’t be as strong of a cybersecurity presence there. They can serve as a training ground for hackers to learn how to access important records. K-12 schools often have outdated, less secure equipment. Malicious actors are able to break in and access student or teacher personal information, modify grades, or simply disrupt the system in any way they want.
Stolen medical records give hackers access to personal data that often leads to financial gain. They also lead to the ability to secure prescription drugs or gain unauthorized access to medical programs. These benefits can lead to strong incentives for cyberattacks.
Because the data storage programs used by healthcare companies can often be complex, unintentional leaks also occur frequently, which can also be damaging.
Retail is one of the top industries at risk for data breaches because it was unaccustomed to the need for cybersecurity. Many retailers have been slow to the need to adequately protect the sensitive customer information that they collect, such as credit card or even social security numbers.
As many as half of all US retailers have experienced a data breach within the last year, an alarming statistic that speaks to the frequency they are targeted.
Because of the sensitive nature of the personal information that is stolen, the attacks on big box retailers have become high profile and tend to draw attention to this issue. These cyberattacks can have a devastating effect on a retailer’s brand when they are mishandled.
There are many industries at risk for data breaches, for various reasons. With the ability to store vast amounts of data, come those who look to access it for malicious purposes. A more robust data protection effort can help to protect sensitive data and company infrastructures. If your organization has fallen victim to a cyberattack, it can be devastating to your organization and your reputation.
If you’ve lost access to sensitive data, you can contact us to help you regain access.