These 5 Industries Will Be Most Vulnerable to Ransomware Attacks in 2022

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Certain industries have always been most susceptible to cyber attacks. Which ones will we see most vulnerable in the new year?

    Cybersecurity is an important topic that continues to make headlines. Technology improves over the years, but so do hackers' abilities to access sensitive material. Data breach victims reached over 160 million throughout 2021. 2022 needs to be the year companies prioritize safety, for the sake of their own workers and their clients and customers, too.

    How a Company Can Protect Itself Against Ransomware Attacks

    Ransomware is different from other types of cyberattacks. This attack accesses someone's information then holds it captive until they make a payment to the hacker to get their information back. To keep itself protected from ransomware and other forms of cyberattacks, a company can implement several tactics to keep its workers and consumers safe from hacking.

    Two-factor (or “multi-factor”) authentication gives a company a massive boost in security. Multi-factor authentication utilizes different devices, such as a phone, if a person logs into an account via desktop, to authorize or notify a person about login attempts. This process makes it much harder for anyone other than the intended person to access sensitive accounts.

    Employers could also implement strong, randomized passwords that can stump hackers because they aren't easy to guess. Updating software whenever updates are available can ensure the latest security measures are always installed on a work computer.

    Stressing education is another important part of defending a company against ransomware attacks. Especially in places where the employees are older, they need to learn how to handle technology correctly – and learn which websites not to access and which email attachments not to click on. Education is the key to dispelling many of these risks.

    The 5 Most Vulnerable Industries Right Now

    While every company should evaluate their cybersecurity risks and make adjustments to their defense regularly, a few sectors should remain especially vigilant in their daily activities. Hackers typically target these industries more than others, and they have a lot more to lose through security breaches.

    1. Health Care

    With so much information in their databases, health care providers may find it challenging to lock down their servers, update their organizational system, and protect themselves against ransomware attacks. Likely because of their complicated or outdated security systems, hackers could choose to target the health care industry. When those hackers take hold of the information, they leak sensitive data more often than not.

    It can also be devastating when health care providers experience a security breach, as tons of private information suddenly falls into the wrong hands. What makes these attacks particularly frightening is that many recent ransomware attacks have happened without the victim clicking on anything. In this case, education may not help stop cyberattacks — better security is a must-have. If anyone needs to focus on beefing up their security in 2022, it's the health care industry.

    2. Higher Education

    The field of education often falls prey to ransomware attacks, as evidenced by nearly 50% of educational institutions being attacked within a year. It, like health care, contains plenty of private or sensitive information associated with students and staff members. Higher education has plenty to lose from a ransomware attack, as it can disrupt anything from sensitive files to online classes where students are actively learning.

    As the pandemic continues, more colleges are turning to online or hybrid learning. Students and faculty alike need reliable technology to carry them through the day. They can't do so if hackers compromise files or hold information for ransom.

    3. Retail Stores

    Online retailers are also subject to security breaches and ransomware attacks. This attack should be particularly alarming to consumers, especially online shoppers. Because of a security breach, consumers may find their payment information has been compromised due to a retailer not locking down their information enough. Shoppers should always check to ensure the safety of a website before purchasing from it.

    Retailers should watch out for these security breaches, too. One of the most common times for hackers to strike is over holidays, when consumers are making purchases for gifts. Ransomware attacks in the retail sector jumped nearly 70% around the holidays in the span of just a year.

    Once a company has lost the private information of their customers, Millennials especially look unfavorably upon them and might find a substitute for their shopping needs. Therefore, retailers should do everything in their power to keep their data secure – whether that's by upgrading systems, enabling multi-factor authentication, or implementing some other defense system.

    4. Small Businesses

    Small businesses are a sometimes overlooked subset of the economy, but they're vulnerable to ransomware attacks, too. Just because they may not be on the map like a larger company doesn't mean they won't be targeted by a hacker. However, nearly 60% of small businesses think they won’t experience a cyberattack of some sort.

    The average small business has around 10 employees, so they may not have a technology expert who knows how to handle ransomware and other security breaches. That's why preventive methods are so crucial for small businesses — they can't afford to neglect any security issues. Still, it takes a while for small businesses to collect themselves after a breach. Most small businesses that experience a security breach like ransomware go out of business within half a year.

    In addition to losing money, victims of ransomware attacks can lose productivity and feel like there's no point in working if they've lost the trust of clients or customers, and the business has made no attempts to make it more secure.

    5. Finance

    It’s no surprise that the finance field ranks on this list, as it deals with money. Ransomware is especially tough on this sector, as sometimes the data is destroyed instead of encrypted after it’s held for ransom.

    The financial sector alone has fallen victim to one-fourth of all cybersecurity attacks, likely because they hold such sensitive information. That may be why the financial industry often falls victim to these terrifying ransomware attacks.

    Arm Yourself With Security Knowledge

    Businesses of any size take a risk by not having appropriate security measures. By employing preventive methods, such as making passwords more secure or updating to the latest security features on devices, a company may avoid being hacked and having their information held for ransom.

    Education is a huge component of keeping a company safe. If employees know what to watch out for and how to keep sensitive information secure, they'll know what to avoid. Ransomware can be scary, but businesses can take steps to prevent it and hopefully lessen the likelihood of attacks in the future.

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    Devin Partida, Technology Editor @ ReHack

    Devin Partida is a technology and cybersecurity writer whose work has been published on many industry publications, including AT&T's Cybersecurity blog, AOL and Entrepreneur.

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