By Andriana Moskovska
Tech Blogger and Contributor at Techjury.net and Hosting Tribunal
Data could very well be considered a currency in today’s world, as various industries rely on cloud systems to store their assets and clients’ information. This recent trend is one of the reasons why data breaches are becoming more common. Companies which have yet to protect themselves need to take utmost caution.
Although attackers no longer discriminate when it comes to the brands they target, there are a few industries where data breaches are more common. Obviously, these industries hold more valuable data than some of the others. Firms that are a part of the industries below should begin to take the necessary steps to protect themselves and, most importantly, their clients.
It should come as no surprise that the retail industry is a major target for hackers. Their databases are a treasure trove filled with crucial information such as names, addresses, emails, and most importantly, bank account numbers. Just last year, online retailing giant Amazon was struck with a data breach a few days before the highly anticipated Black Friday sale. The attack compromised the names and emails of the company’s clients.
Luckily, the data breach was only a minor mishap caused by a technical issue. Amazon later assured its customers they had nothing to be worried about and did not even need to change their passwords. The attack took a huge toll on Amazon’s reputation. At the time, the company became subject to criticism despite the low-threat level of the attack.
Another favorite among cybercriminals is the financial services sector which includes banks, investment firms, and insurance companies. The reason why cybercriminals favor the financial services industry is pretty obvious. Their cloud systems and servers are chock-full of data which could be directly used to steal money.
The attacks on the sector are steadily growing well into 2019. According to a report by UK firm Financial Conduct Authority (CFA), the frequency of attacks on the industry went up by a whopping 480% in 2018. For a clearer picture, there were 145 reported attacks last year, compared to 25 in 2017.
The research adds that cybercriminals believe the financial services sector has weaker defenses compared to other industries. To top it all off, the payoff is significantly better if an attack is successful.
It may sound odd and unlikely, but attacks on the healthcare sector are also very common. The main driving factor behind the frequency of attacks is, of course, profit. Whenever we check into a hospital, we’re asked to provide various crucial data, such as our addresses, Social Security numbers, next of kin names and phone numbers, contact details, and more. If we use the services of a healthcare firm, it’ll have access to our financial details as well.
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What makes the healthcare sector different from other industries is the source of the attacks. According to recent data, 56% of data breaches in the industry are caused by internal threats. To be precise, they are commonly the result of human error. With that in mind, healthcare firms should put more resources into proper training for their employees.
Public Sector/Government Services
Whether for the purposes of financial gain, espionage, or something else entirely, government services are a common target of attackers. This sector holds various types of citizen information, including Social Security numbers, Tax Identification Numbers, addresses, contact details, and more.
The good thing is:
The government sector is taking greater precaution by investing in IT security. In time, the valuable data of a nation’s citizens will be behind impenetrable defenses.
The allure of the education sector to cybercriminals is similar to how attackers are attracted to the healthcare sector. Like the latter, the education industry is a treasure trove of personal information that is lucrative for cybercriminals in many ways. Apart from that, the education industry is a gateway to identity theft.
Cybercriminals looking to start anew with a different identity could use compromised data from the education sector. Job opportunities are possible.
Hackers could easily steal the achievements and rewards of others when looking for work.
Another reason why educational institutions are susceptible is that the sector generates a lot of cyber activity. Computers and the internet are regularly used by students and teachers alike, which makes attacks easier to carry out.
The Value of Data
Cybercriminals wouldn’t put themselves at risk if the targeted data was without any value.
The private information stolen from firms and servers is often sold on the black market for varying prices. According to CashShield CEO Justin Lie, stolen credit cards are worth at least $1 a piece on the black market. Any additional information that comes bundled with the data would bump the price up further.
From a broader perspective, an attack that leaked 1 million credit cards could be sold on the black market for around $1 million. If hackers are able to secure more information, they can make several million more.
It’s not just financial gain that cybercriminals are after. The data they can gather from various industries could be used to commit fraudulent crimes. Worse, it could put the lives of those affected in grave danger.
Since cybercriminals work behind a computer, there’s basically no chance of them getting hurt. If they are good enough, they’ll remain undetected forever. Such high rewards and minimal risks will lure any criminal into going digital. They are also taking advantage of the fact that not every company is prepared for a data breach just yet, so they are making their move before the security tightens.
The time for firms to fully arm their servers and databases with the proper security they need is now. Data breaches and cyber attacks are showing no signs of stopping. Companies’ best bet at protecting their clients and integrity is being prepared and vigilant at all times.