Cyber crime has been on the rise in the UK for some time, but the 2020 coronavirus pandemic has worsened the trend significantly. According to The Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021 by the UK government, two in five UK businesses experienced cyber attacks in the last year. Why is this number so high, and which industries in particular are at the greatest risk of cyber crime? Take a look at The Five Industries Most Vulnerable To A Cyber Attack.
Cyber Crime in UK Companies
The 2020 pandemic saw a spike in cyber crime and showed how unprepared some UK businesses are to handle cyber attacks. The Cyber Security Breaches Survey shed some light on why UK businesses may have undergone so much cyber crime in the past year:
In addition to the pandemic putting stress on cyber security, the increased use of cloud technologies has also opened up vulnerability to cyber attacks in the UK.
The Five Most Vulnerable Industries
Cyber attacks have a devastating impact on UK businesses. Poor cyber security can cost a company thousands or millions of pounds if they experience a data breach. The UK government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey noted that where a data breach resulted in a loss of data or assets, the average cost of a cyber attack on a business is £8,460. For medium and large businesses, that figure rises to £13,400.
Although cyber crime is a risk for all businesses of any size, five particular industries tend to be targeted more often:
Healthcare data is often targeted by cyber criminals. Medical records contain names, addresses, dates of birth, and many other types of data that hackers can easily sell or use to open fraudulent accounts. Because hospitals and healthcare facilities are increasingly digitising medical records, it’s becoming easier for hackers to access them.
Medical devices are also an entry point for hackers because they store patient data or connect to servers that store patient data. In a worst-case scenario, x-rays, insulin pumps, defibrillators, and other lifesaving devices can be hacked and taken over completely, preventing medical personnel from operating them when they need to.
Finally, the healthcare industry is the most vulnerable to the risk of cyber crime in the UK because systems are outdated and there’s a fear that switching to new technology could disrupt working practices and patient care.
IT & Telecommunications
IT and telecom companies build and operate critical infrastructure that is widely used to communicate and store large amounts of sensitive data. The combination of complex networks and vast stores of data make these companies targets for cyber criminals. Attacks focus on either the telecom companies themselves or the company’s subscribers.
Telecoms and IT are also targets of state-sponsored cyber attacks because entire economies and businesses operate on these telecommunications structures. They’re also the gateway to other businesses; once a hacker infiltrates the telecom company’s infrastructure, they can easily intercept calls or impersonate subscribers.
Like hospitals, law firms hold a large amount of sensitive data on their clients. This data includes personal information relating to divorce and custody cases, or corporate information concerning mergers, acquisitions, and intellectual property. With so much stored data and a need to exchange sensitive data confidentially, law firms have become a big target for cyber criminals.
Switching to remote working during the pandemic was a hard shift for many law firms, as methods for dispute resolution and transactional work didn’t support virtual methods. There’s also a lack of clear regulations surrounding data protection and security, leaving many law firms without contingency plans or a security framework to follow.
HR & Recruitment
Many cyber criminals have used HR as their way into organisations, through payroll fraud, recruitment scams, and even corporate espionage. The HR department usually holds a trove of personally identifiable information such as names, addresses, and bank information. Not only do attacks target employees but they also provide ammunition for future phishing attacks against other parts of the business.
Recruitment agencies are particularly at risk as well, because they build up lists of candidates and resources that become valuable intellectual property worth stealing. These agencies are also targets for malware because one virus can expose documents such as passport scans and visa details.
Manufacturing & Utilities
The manufacturing industry includes the automotive, electronics, and pharmaceutical sectors – all of which develop valuable intellectual property. Manufacturing firms also rely on highly specific software packages that are difficult to patch, making them more vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Like the healthcare industry, the manufacturing industry is reluctant to disrupt current processes and therefore operates with outdated systems. This hesitancy to update is critical, as the industry is one of the most technologically immature, having not kept up with modern security measures.
Is Your UK Business Vulnerable to a Cyber Attack?
Even if your business isn’t in one of the five most vulnerable industries, you are still at risk of a cyber attack or data breach. Taking steps toward better cyber security now is always better than disaster recovery later on. If your UK business has questions about securing your data, the cyber security experts at Amazing Support are happy to help.