Which Industries are Most Likely to Be Targeted by Ransomware?
Let’s begin by making one thing abundantly clear—all businesses and industries could potentially be targeted by ransomware, regardless of their size or target audience. However, as of late, some industries have been targeted more and more. Let’s examine some of the commonly targeted industries that ransomware is frequently waged against.
What Industries are Often Targeted By Ransomware?
Lately, ransomware has been increasingly directed towards a few industries, in organizations of all sizes. These industries are as follows:
- Professional Services
- IT Services
Let’s briefly discuss the situation surrounding each of these industries.
The various businesses that fall within the umbrella of professional services—ranging from everything from accounting to consulting to legal assistance—have all been targeted by ransomware attacks with uncomfortable frequency. This is largely due to many of them possessing sensitive data that cybercriminals seek out, and with many small organizations lacking sufficient cybersecurity, they become relatively easy targets.
Considering the sheer amount of data that school systems collect and store on their students—in addition to the faculty and staff that work there—it should be no surprise that educational institutions have been attacked more and more in recent years. 2021 saw operations disrupted across over 1,000 such institutions throughout 88 attacks. Emsisoft, an antimalware provider who provided that previous stat, also reported that at least half of the 2021 incidents resulted in employee and student data being stolen.
Government processes—all that fall under that umbrella term—are pretty important, which makes it chilling to think that 40% of surveyed IT decision-makers from government organizations around the world had been impacted by ransomware within a year prior to the survey. One only has to consider the shutdown of Ireland’s national health service in May 2021, 2019’s ransomware attack on the City of Baltimore that shut down services for months, or 2019’s lockdown of a United States Coast Guard facility to see how severe attacks like this can be.
While it may seem like we’re blowing up our own spot, it is important to recognize that even the experts can be suckered by ransomware attacks. This not only highlights how truly dangerous ransomware can be, but also how important it is to ensure that you have an IT provider you can trust, like White Mountain IT Services.
It’s little wonder that healthcare organizations are a favorite target of those who use ransomware to their own selfish and nefarious ends. With tons of critical data and systems being used at all hours in hospitals and health centers, they tend to be highly motivated to pay the demanded ransom to avoid loss of life.
As of late, manufacturers have been demonstrated to also be popular ransomware targets, specifically by having much of their data published online (as many now threaten to do if a ransom payment isn’t received promptly, or a business refuses to pay a second ransom). Manufacturing was actually the most common industry sector to have stolen data leaked online, and since it was also the most well-prepared industry to restore backed-up data, the least likely to fork over a ransom.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, are those who provide oil, gas, and utilities. According to Sophos, these organizations are much more likely to pay ransomware demands… and cybercriminals know it. Remember the Colonial Pipeline shutdown a few years ago? While the Department of Justice managed to recover half of the ransomware payment back from the attackers, the attack still crippled a lot of the United States’ eastern operations through fuel delivery disruptions.
When it has been said that the next major financial crisis could very well be caused by a ransomware attack, it becomes even more concerning to learn that ransomware attacks against the financial industry have been increasing dramatically. The first half of 2021 saw more ransomware attacks against financial institutions than the entirety of 2020, with payments seeing a similar rise in frequency.
In Short, No Industry is Safe from Ransomware…
…which means all businesses need to be prepared to resist it and deal with it as necessary. Unfortunately, this can be a complicated process and is becoming more so all the time, so proactive precautions become a wiser and wiser strategy. We can help you put these precautions in place to prepare you for such a scenario. Give us a call at 603-889-0800 to learn more.