Any industry that holds some form of personally identifiable information is at risk of cyber attacks. However, there are particular industries that are most at risk due to the heightened value of the information they hold. Some of the most targeted industries include banking, government, healthcare, and retail.
Financial sectors are not only targeted because of the money they guard but also due to the large amounts of personally identifiable information that they hold. Personal information, like Social Security numbers and contact details, is very valuable to hackers and this data can be accessed through many creative means, such as phishing scams or even by hacking the financial institution directly.
For obvious reasons, the government is one of the most targeted institutions of cyber attacks. However, it is particularly alarming that data breaches most often are the result of simple internal mistakes. The most common errors include losing portable devices and exposing data unintentionally by neglecting to follow cyber security best practices.
Hackers target healthcare organizations in order to gain access to health data and other personally identifiable information. Similar to government data breaches, one of the most common threats to sensitive information in the healthcare industry is the loss of portable devices. Healthcare organizations, along with many other organizations, have the difficult task of trying to protect mobile devices from cyber threats more adequately.
Retail offers hackers an opportunity to seize credit card information by targeting the point of sale. The main ways this can be achieved is through POS skimmers (basically, manipulating payment processing devices) and memory scraping malware. The hope is that as EMV chip-card technology becomes more prominent, hackers will not have as much of a chance to capture credit card information.