Which Industry Is Most Likely To Suffer Cyber Attacks?

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Low predictability of cyber-attacks increases risk for all 11 industries surveyed in new study

Customers of more than 75 percent of companies surveyed are at high risk of malicious email attacks, with healthcare patients in most danger.

This is according to the newly released 2014 edition of the State of Email Trust report, compiled by Agari, a provider of real-time, data-driven security solutions that detect and prevent advanced email cyber-attacks. The report is a study based on analysis of email authentication practices for 147 companies across 11 industries. It identifies spikes and declines in cyber-attacks across industries throughout the year, revealing companies and industries never know when attacks may occur, nor can they anticipate their breadth and severity.

Surge in data breaches

The State of Email Trust provides email ‘trust’ ratings, or how well companies are protecting consumers from email cyber-threats, and provides email ‘threat’ ratings (ThreatScore), or the volume of cyber-threats targeted toward any given company’s consumers via email relative to other companies and industries analysed.

data security breachThe number of US data breaches tracked in 2014 surged 28 percent to 783 from the number reported in 2013, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. The number of US data breach incidents tracked since 2005 hit an unfortunate milestone of 5,029 in 2014, involving more than 675 million estimated records. Commonly, data breaches are followed by email cyber-attacks that worsen the blow for consumers.

Against a backdrop of worrisome healthcare cybersecurity news throughout 2014, the healthcare industry had the worst email TrustScore average of every industry surveyed in all four quarters. Nearly 30 percent of major health insurance companies surveyed scored a TrustScore of zero. In terms of ‘safe’ companies, there has been progress, as the number of those with perfect 100 TrustScores almost doubled in 2014. But this was still a small increase in numbers, from only seven companies to 13 of the 147 companies whose domains were surveyed.

Patrick Peterson, founder and CEO of Agari, said: “We saw a record number of US data breaches in 2014 and cyber-attacks are a steady drumbeat of increasing breadth and severity, with the FBI now ranking cybercrime as one of its top law enforcement activities.

“For all its ubiquity and convenience, email remains the single most effective and widely used vector of attack. Our report shows that companies are starting to take email security more seriously, but there’s still a long, long way to go. One step in the right direction is President Obama’s recent proposed initiatives around data sharing that are critical to securing our ever-growing digital economy.”

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