Cyber Crime has been a problem in the UK for a long time, but it increased dramatically in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The government conducted its annual Cyber Security Breaches Survey to get a clear picture of cybercrime in the UK. The 2021 edition of the survey said that two in five UK businesses experienced cyber attacks in the last year. Amazing Support, an IT consultancy, has witnessed first-hand the damage a data breach can cause a business. If you’re a business owner, it might be time to evaluate your cyber security strategy – especially if you operate in a vulnerable industry.
Cyber Crime by the Numbers
Most UK businesses weren’t prepared for the 2020 pandemic and the new work-from-home model it forced them to use. The Cyber Security Breaches Survey has the numbers to prove it:
- 47 percent of businesses have staff using personal devices for work, but only 18 percent have a policy on how to use those personal devices at work
- Less than one-quarter of businesses (23 percent) have a policy geared toward cyber security and home working
- Only 83 percent of businesses have updated anti-virus software
Working from home during the height of the pandemic put stress on many businesses’ cyber security systems. Moving to cloud technologies has also made businesses more vulnerable.
The Five Industries Most at Risk for Cyber Crime in the UK
In The Cyber Security Breaches Survey conducted by the UK government, five industries stood out as the most likely to be targeted for cyber attacks. These industries are:
- IT & Telecommunications
- HR & Recruitment
- Manufacturing & Utilities
Medical records contain valuable information that criminals can sell on the Dark Web once they have it. Many hospitals and healthcare facilities are digitizing their records as well, making them easier to access for cybercriminals. Outdated technology that many healthcare facilities use also puts the industry at risk because older systems are less likely to have the necessary security updates that keep hackers at bay.
Another entry point for cybercriminals is medical devices that store patient data or connect to servers that store patient data. These devices could even be taken over remotely, preventing medical personnel from operating them.
IT & Telecommunications
IT and telecom companies operate infrastructure used to communicate and store large amounts of data. These companies may even suffer from state-sponsored cyber-attacks because their systems allow entire economies to operate. IT and telecom businesses are gateways to other companies – the companies that use their systems. Once hackers have infiltrated the infrastructure, they can intercept calls or impersonate subscribers.
The combination of complex communication networks and huge stores of sensitive data make IT and telecom companies a big target for cybercriminals.
Law firms maintain a lot of data on their clients. Personal information from divorce and custody cases or corporate intel concerning mergers and acquisitions are data that criminals would like to get their hands on. Storing that data and transferring it confidentially has become a challenge for law firms since the switch to remote working in 2020. Shifting dispute resolution and transactional work to virtual methods proved difficult for many law firms. The lack of regulations around data privacy in the legal field also left many without contingency plans.
HR & Recruitment
Cybercriminals can find their way into companies through the HR department via payroll fraud, recruitment scams, and corporate espionage. HR usually holds a lot of personal data on employees, such as names, addresses, and bank information – all valuable data that cybercriminals look for. By targeting HR employees, hackers give themselves more ammunition for future attacks against other departments.
Recruitment agencies are also at risk because they hold candidate data and build up valuable candidate lists, which is considered intellectual property worth stealing.
Manufacturing & Utilities
Companies in the manufacturing industry are vulnerable to cyber attacks for the intellectual property they generate. The automotive, electronics, and pharmaceutical sectors, in particular, attract cybercriminals. Most manufacturing firms also use specific software packages that are hard to update, making them a target for cybercriminals.
The manufacturing industry is also far behind most other industries technologically and is hesitant to move to new systems. Not keeping up with modern security measures is a major vulnerability for this industry.
Cyber Crime on the Rise
If your business operates in one of the five at-risk industries, then it’s worth your time to reevaluate your cyber security strategy. If you don’t have a cyber security strategy, then you need to develop one right away. Even if your business isn’t in a vulnerable industry, you could still be at risk of a cyber-attack. Data breaches are costly and lower your clients’ trust in your business. Avoid one by having strong cyber security measures in place.
Featured image by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash