Disclaimer: Contributions to this article do not represent an endorsement of TrollEye Security’s services.
In today’s interconnected world the threat of cyberattacks grows larger every day. Malicious actors, using advanced tools and tactics, are constantly seeking vulnerabilities to exploit in their relentless pursuit of financial gains. As organizations strive to stay ahead in this cybersecurity arms race, it is essential to identify and understand the industry’s most susceptible to cyber threats.
Industry 1: Financial Services
The financial services industry stands as a pillar of modern society, enabling economic transactions, facilitating investments, and providing essential financial resources. However, this very significance also makes it an irresistible target for cybercriminals seeking to exploit vulnerabilities for monetary gain. The evolving landscape of digital finance brings both convenience and risk, necessitating robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard sensitive data and maintain trust in financial institutions.
From banks and credit unions to payment processors and investment firms, the potential repercussions of a successful cyberattack can be devastating. Whether it’s the compromise of customer data, the disruption of critical financial systems, or the manipulation of stock prices, the consequences can ripple through the economy and erode public confidence.
Let’s look at some examples: $890 million price tag.
These are three examples of major cyberattacks on financial instructions, showing their vulnerability.
Capitol One: In March of 2019 a former Amazon employee exploited misconfigured firewalls on the Amazon servers that Capitol One was leasing, this resulted in a data breach. The data leak exposed over 100 million people’s personal information, and included SSNs in the United States, a million social insurance numbers from Canada, and over 80,000 bank account numbers. This resulted in a major lawsuit that had Capitol One paying out $190 million to customers affected by the incident.
Equifax: In September of 2017 Equifax experienced a data breach that affected 147 million customers, this breach happened due to terrible cybersecurity practices including failing to patch a well-known vulnerability, failing to segment their ecosystem, storing usernames and passwords in plaintext, and failing to renew an encryption certificate for an internal tool. The stolen data included names, dates of birth, SSNs, driver’s license numbers, and credit card numbers, Equifax was fined $700 million for this data breach.
Heartland: In January of 2008 130 million debit and credit card numbers were compromised due to the injection of malware onto a webform, located on Heartland’s website. The attackers used an SQL injection attack to gain access to their corporate network, after spending almost 6 months trying to access the resources that processed payment data they finally succeeded, evaded anti-virus defenses, and then installed sniffer software to intercept the credit card data.
Cybersecurity challenges faced by the financial services industry:
Sophisticated Phishing and Social Engineering Attacks: Cybercriminals often will employ cunning techniques to trick employees into divulging confidential information, which enables them to gain access to financial accounts or sensitive networks.
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs): APTs are stealthy and prolonged cyberattacks, often orchestrated by nation-state actors or organized criminal groups. These sophisticated attacks aim to infiltrate financial systems, surveil activities, and manipulate data covertly.
Insider Threats: While external threats remain a significant concern, insider threats pose an additional challenge, disgruntled employees can exploit their privileged access to compromise systems, steal sensitive information, and disrupt operations.
Regulatory Compliance: Financial institutions must adhere to strict guidelines such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) in the US, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU, failure to meet these requirements will expose your institution to financial penalties, tarnishing its reputation.
Addressing these challenges demands a multi-faceted approach that combines technology, employee education, and proactive incident response. Robust network security measures, encryption protocols, employee training programs, and continuous monitoring are essential components of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.
By adopting a proactive mindset, fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness, and by leveraging TrollEye Security’s proactive solutions like Pen Testing as a Service and DevSecOps, the financial services industry can fortify its defenses, protect customer trust, and maintain the stability of the global economy.
Industry 2: Healthcare
Technological advancements have revolutionized the healthcare industry providing efficient patient care and storing critical medical information electronically. However this transformation has also opened the door to a new set of cybersecurity challenges, putting patient confidentiality and the integrity of healthcare systems at risk.
The healthcare industry is a treasure trove of valuable data, including personally identifiable information (PII), medical records, and financial details, in fact it is estimated that 95% of identity theft stems from stolen hospital records. This wealth of information makes healthcare organizations an attractive target for cybercriminals seeking to exploit vulnerabilities for various purposes which include identity theft, insurance fraud, and disrupting healthcare operations.
The consequences of a successful cyberattack in healthcare can extend far beyond financial losses. Patient safety, privacy breaches, and compromised medical treatments are all potential outcomes, with potentially life-threatening implications.
Examples: $13.5 million price tag.
Shields Health Care Group: In May of 2022 Sheilds Health Care Group reported that a cybercriminal had gained access to its IT systems in March. In total over 2 million patients were affected, with names, addresses, SSNs, insurance information, and medical history being exposed.
Banner Health: In 2019, hackers using malware breached Banner Health’s payment processing systems for their food and beverage outlets. The attacker then moved into Banner Healths network, gaining access to servers containing patient data. This attack went undiscovered for almost a month, the stolen information included SSNs, dates of services and claims, health insurance information, and more. This resulted in a $6 million settlement to breach victims.
UCLA Health: In 2014 UCLA Health discovered suspicious activity on its network, however they determined that hackers had not gained access to systems that contained personal and medical data. However later in 2015, they determined that they had gained access to those systems and as a result SSNs, dates of birth, health plan ID numbers, and medical data was leaked, they reached a $7.5 million settlement as a result of the cyberattack.
Key cybersecurity challenges faced by the healthcare industry include:
Ransomware Attacks: Ransomware has emerged as a prevalent threat in healthcare, where malicious actors encrypt critical systems or sensitive patient data and demand a ransom for their release. These attacks can lead to operational disruptions, delayed patient care, and financial losses.
Medical Device Vulnerabilities: With connected medical devices such as pacemakers and insulin pumps being used on a regular basis, the risk of cyberattacks targeting these devices has increased. The exploitation of vulnerabilities in medical devices can result in patient harm, unauthorized access to sensitive data, or even death.
Insider Threats: Insiders with privileged access, such as healthcare employees or contractors, can misuse their credentials to access or manipulate patient records, steal sensitive information, or disrupt healthcare services.
Data Interception and Theft: The theft of patient data poses a significant risk in the healthcare industry, cybercriminals can sell stolen medical records on the black market leading to identity theft, insurance fraud, or even impersonation for accessing healthcare services.
Regulatory Compliance: Healthcare organizations have to adhere to strict data protection regulations, HIPAA in the United States and the GDPR in the European Union, if they fail to comply with these regulations large fines can be imposed.
A challenge that was not on this list but was experienced by one of our contributors, Mr. Scott Turner, a CISO at Affirm Health, was with secure communication and email practices:
“Here’s To Better Work Email
Everyone is an individual with a unique preference for how others should contact them. When developing new products, I know how fast a “quick” question turns into a research effort. While the question may start as an instant message or email, as a remote worker, I lean on video calls and screen sharing to ensure nothing gets missed.
From co-workers to customers, identifying the proper communication channel is a challenge. Our small business interacts with individuals who provide direct patient health care. Email for communication tends to rule as providers may only work certain weekdays. And, being focused on patient care during their shift, providers postpone reading emails from vendors until breaks or after-hours.
As a tool vendor which providers use during a patient visit, my company is keen to explain changes or improvements that may affect the provider’s workflow. Also, if a provider does not receive our emails, not knowing about product upgrades can potentially disrupt or delay an applicable procedure that a patient may be due for. To reduce lost communication, I implemented DMARC to lessen messages being marked as spam. In short, deliverability problems involving addressing mostly disappeared. Of course, there are still reasons messages could be filtered out simply by containing links, images, and being a new vendor.
So, having our emails received more reliably seemed the main priority. However, my effort morphed into hindering spammers from using our domain too. In fact, the DMARC reports showed servers in outside countries frequently sending emails with our domain. Therefore, implementing DMARC also improved the ability of receiving systems to recognize fraudulent emails. As a result, many were no longer delivered to an inbox.
DMARC took about a month to implement for our few services (a single domain and three email-sending services). The entire month was not spent fiddling with DNS settings but mostly waiting for DMARC reports to baseline before and after performance.
Interestingly, DMARC is easy to maintain when a new email-sending service is added. For example, if the DMARC settings are untouched, the new email service tends to report failures immediately. This fast-fail response helps IT remain aware of the services being used across the company.
Because spammers can also implement DMARC, I wanted to be aware of very similar domain names. In fact, a case of typo-squatting was found. A few domains were purchased due to this research, but there is a limit to how much protection this affords. The extra domains were set up to prohibit email from being sent.
Considering the other way around for emails my company receives, I implemented MTA-STS. This promises to increase the amount of encrypted email we receive when services support it. Reporting can be switched on to monitor the effectiveness of this setting too, but I found it harder to materially visualize the wins.
If you are curious about our DMARC evolution, a reject policy was added. However, one of the alignments couldn’t be set too strictly due to an email sending service limitation.
In conclusion, the same provider attentiveness to wanting to capture everything important about a patient I have found is extended to our company as a vendor. With reliable and non-fraudulent email delivery, I hope my company’s emails remain seen as an accelerator, just like the products we provide them.
On my path toward DMARC, I relied mostly on these resources:
To implement DMARC, I followed this step-by-step Google guide:
• Help prevent spoofing and spam with DMARC (support.google.com/a/answer/2466580? ref_topic=2759254).
To confirm DMARC syntax and analyze reports, I found helpful Dmarcian’s free tools:
• DMARC Record Checker (dmarcian.com/dmarc-inspector/)
• XML-to-Human Converter (us.dmarcian.com/dmarc-xml/)
To find similarly named domains, DNS Twister found quite a few.
• DNS Twister (dnstwister.report)
To implement MTA-STS, I followed this step-by-step Google guide:
• Increase email security with MTA-STS and TLS reporting (support.google.com/a/answer/9261504?ref_topic=9261406)”
Scott Turner, CISO, Affirm Health, Inc.
To address these challenges, the healthcare industry must prioritize cybersecurity as an integral part of its operations, implementing security measures such as encryption, network segmentation, and access controls can help mitigate the risks. Additionally, employee training programs, incident response plans, and regular security audits are crucial to building a resilient cybersecurity posture.
By investing in comprehensive cybersecurity strategies, like Trolleye Security’s Penetration Testing as a Service, and Dark Web Analysis offerings, healthcare professionals can protect patient confidentiality, ensure the integrity of medical treatments, and maintain the trust of patients who entrust them with their well-being.
Industry 3: Construction
The construction industry, known for its physical nature, may not immediately come to mind when discussing cyber threats. However, as technology becomes increasingly integrated into construction processes, the industry is facing new challenges in safeguarding its digital assets and sensitive information.
In recent years, construction companies have become more digitalized, adopting Building Information Modeling (BIM) systems, cloud-based collaboration platforms, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. While these advancements enhance efficiency and productivity, they also create new entry points for cyber attackers.
Cybercriminals recognize the construction industry as a valuable target due to the extensive financial transactions, intellectual property, and critical infrastructure involved. A successful cyberattack on construction companies can lead to devastating consequences, including project delays, compromised safety systems, and substantial financial losses. In fact, the construction industry is the most likely out of any other to pay a ransom.
Bird Construction: In 2019 Bird Construction was hit by a cyberattack, allegedly by MAZE cybercriminals, in total 60 gigabytes of data that included SSNs, banking details, names email addresses, and health information was stolen.
Bouygues Construction: In 2020 Bouygues Constructions server was breached, which resulted in the entire company network shutting down, the cybercriminals were able to steal 20 gigabytes of data and demanded a $10 million ransom.
Key Cybersecurity Challenges Faced by the Construction Industry Include:
Compromise of Building Information Modeling (BIM) Systems: BIM systems hold sensitive information about building designs and construction plans. Cyberattacks targeting BIM platforms can lead to unauthorized access to critical data, compromising the integrity of construction projects.
Vulnerability of Internet of Things (IoT) Devices: The increasing adoption of IoT devices in construction sites introduces new security risks. Unprotected IoT devices can serve as entry points for cyber attackers to infiltrate networks and disrupt operations.
Ransomware and Financially Motivated Attacks: Cybercriminals may target construction companies with ransomware to extort money or disrupt ongoing projects, leading to significant financial losses.
Insider Threats: Disgruntled employees or contractors with access to construction systems can misuse their privileges to compromise data or sabotage operations.
Legacy System Vulnerabilities: The reliance on aging infrastructure and legacy systems in the construction industry may expose vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cyber attackers.
One of the primary concerns within the construction industry is the potential compromise of BIM systems. These platforms contain intricate details about building designs, structural plans, and supply chain logistics, making them an attractive target for cyber espionage or ransomware attacks. Moreover, IoT devices deployed on construction sites, such as security cameras or equipment sensors, can serve as gateways for unauthorized access if not adequately protected.
To address these emerging threats, construction companies must prioritize cybersecurity and establish robust measures to protect their digital infrastructure. This includes implementing strong access controls, regular vulnerability assessments, employee training on cyber hygiene practices, and establishing incident response plans to mitigate potential attacks swiftly. TrollEye Security provides a comprehensive Cyber Risk Management strategy, with services like SOC/IR and Pen Testing as a Service.
Industry 4: Manufacturing
The manufacturing industry stands at the forefront of innovation driving economic growth and technological advancements. With the rise of Industry 4.0 and the increasing integration of automation, robotics, and interconnected systems the sector has experienced significant benefits in terms of efficiency, productivity, and cost reduction. However along with these benefits comes the heightened risk of cyber threats.
Because of the critical nature of their business, manufacturing companies have become lucrative targets for cybercriminals seeking to gain off of the vast amounts of valuable intellectual property and sensitive data they possess. From blueprints and designs to customer data and proprietary manufacturing processes, these assets make manufacturers appealing targets for both cyber espionage and financial gain.
Cyberattacks on the manufacturing industry can have severe consequences. A successful breach could disrupt production lines, compromise product quality, result in costly downtime, and lead to significant financial losses. Moreover, attacks targeting supply chain networks can ripple through the industry, impacting multiple organizations and disrupting the overall ecosystem.
Examples: $141.8 million price tag.
JBS Foods: In May of 2021 REvil launched an attack on JBS Foods which resulted in the halting of meatpacking operations at multiple locations, for as many as five days, JBS paid an $11 million ransom to keep the stolen files safe.
FA-CC: In 2016 FA-CCs accounting department was targeted by a whaling attack, meaning a cybercriminal sent an email appearing to be from a senior executive, in this case it appeared to be from the CEO. The email requested that employees send funds related to a fake acquisition, FACC lost at least $55.8 million and fired their CEO and CFO for failure to protect the company.
Norsk Hydro: Because of a devasting cyberattack involving LockerGoa ransomware, Norsk Hydro, which is a multinational aluminum manufacturer, had to shut down many plants and move others offline. It’s believed that the hackers gained access using stolen credentials, this attack resulted in a $75 million loss for Norsk Hydro.
Key Cybersecurity Challenges Faced by the Manufacturing Industry Include:
Cyber Espionage and Intellectual Property Theft: Manufacturing companies possess valuable intellectual property and trade secrets, making them prime targets for cyber espionage by nation-state actors or competitors seeking to gain a competitive advantage.
Convergence of Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT): The integration of OT and IT systems in smart manufacturing introduces new attack vectors, as vulnerabilities in one system can compromise the entire production infrastructure.
Ransomware and Downtime Risks: Ransomware attacks can disrupt production lines, leading to costly downtime and negatively impacting production schedules and revenue.
Supply Chain Vulnerabilities: Manufacturers often rely on complex supply chain networks. Cyberattacks targeting suppliers can have cascading effects, disrupting operations and compromising product quality.
Lack of Security by Design: The fast adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies may lead to insecure implementations that do not prioritize cybersecurity from the outset.
To combat these threats, manufacturers must adopt a proactive and multi-layered approach to cybersecurity. This includes implementing robust network segmentation between OT and IT systems, conducting regular risk assessments, implementing strong access controls, and continuously monitoring and updating security measures. Manufacturing companies can leverage TrollEye Security’s comprehensive Cyber Risk Management strategy, using services like Dark Web Analysis, Pen testing as a Service, and SOC/IR.
Industry 5: Energy and Utilities
The energy and utility sectors play a vital role in providing essential services to homes, businesses, and industries, as technology advances and smart grid systems become more prevalent, the industry is becoming increasingly interconnected and reliant on digital infrastructure. However, this reliance also exposes it to a range of cyber threats.
The critical nature of energy and utility infrastructure makes it an attractive target for malicious actors with various motives, including financial gain, geopolitical agendas, and activism. A successful cyberattack on the energy sector has severe consequences, they can lead to widespread power outages, disruption of services, and even jeopardizing public safety.
The Colonial Pipeline: In May of 2021 the Colonial Pipeline shut down due to a major ransomware attack, this resulted in gas prices skyrocketing, and pumps in the Southeast of the United States going dry, after several days the pipeline reopened and was operational after paying a $4.4 million ransom.
Ukrainian Power Grid: In 2015, in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, a worker in the Prykarpattyoablenergo Control Center watched as his computers mouse moved of its own accord and then proceeded to shut down every single circuit breaker, the attackers also hit two other power stations leaving 230,000 people without electricity for 1-6 hours.
Key Cybersecurity Challenges Faced by the Manufacturing Industry Include:
Critical Infrastructure Attacks: The energy and utilities sector operates critical infrastructure that is essential for the functioning of society. Cyberattacks on these systems can lead to widespread power outages and jeopardize public safety.
Aging Infrastructure and Legacy Systems: Many energy and utility companies still rely on legacy systems that may not meet modern cybersecurity standards, making them vulnerable to attacks.
Supply Chain Risks: The energy sector relies on a complex network of suppliers, making it susceptible to supply chain attacks that can disrupt the entire energy grid.
Internet of Things (IoT) Vulnerabilities: The growing use of IoT devices and smart grid technologies introduces potential entry points for cyber attackers to gain unauthorized access and control over critical infrastructure.
Geopolitical and Ideological Motivations: State-sponsored actors or ideological groups may target energy and utility companies for political or activist reasons, leading to potential cyber threats.
To protect against cyber threats, the energy and utilities industry must invest in comprehensive cybersecurity strategies. This includes implementing strong access controls, regularly patching and updating systems, conducting thorough risk assessments, and enhancing network monitoring and threat detection capabilities. Many Energy and Utility companies can benefit from TrollEye Security’s Pen Test as a Service and SOC/IR solutions.
In an increasingly interconnected and digitized world, cyber threats pose significant risks to various industries. From healthcare and financial services to construction, manufacturing, and energy and utilities, organizations across these sectors must remain vigilant and proactive in their cybersecurity efforts.
In order to help protect their organizations, their customers, and the critical services they provide, the professionals within these industries must recognize the importance of investing in robust cybersecurity measures, fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness, and staying abreast of evolving threats and best practices.
Together we can navigate the complex landscape of cyber risks and build a secure and resilient future for our organizations and the global economy. Our comprehensive Cyber Risk Management Strategy is not just for high-risk industries but can help your organization’s security posture as well, our services include Pen Testing as a Service, Dark Web Analysis, DevSecOps, and SOC/IR.