The Industries Most Vulnerable to Cyberattacks

October 23, 2023

Cyberattacks are a serious threat to nearly every industry, but some are at greater risk because they manage high-value data, such as personal information, financial records, or intellectual property. Cybercriminals look to steal and sell this data on the dark web or use it for fraud, extortion, or sabotage. 

Here’s a look at a few industries that are especially vulnerable to cyberattacks and why, as well as what security measures organizations in these industries are taking to protect their data and systems. 


Cyberattacks in the Healthcare Industry

The healthcare industry faces constant cyberattacks for a variety of reasons. First, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for medical services, leading to more use of telehealth and remote monitoring devices. These devices can be hacked or infected with malware, compromising patient data or health outcomes. Second, healthcare organizations store vast amounts of sensitive health records and patient data, and on the dark web a single medical record can be worth up to $1,000. Since 2020, more than 90% of healthcare organizations have reported at least one security breach, often in the form of ransomware, which can significantly disrupt critical processes and endanger patient health

To combat these threats, healthcare organizations encrypt patient data and maintain strict control over who can access their systems to prevent unauthorized access or theft. Similarly, their systems typically require enhanced authentication and authorization protocols, and there is considerable focus on keeping software up to date to fix known vulnerabilities.  


tablet containing various medical graphs and data


Cyberattacks in Finance and Banking 

The finance and banking sector handles vast amounts of sensitive financial data, making it a lucrative target for cybercriminals. An average of 350,000 exposed sensitive files leaves financial institutions at high risk of data theft, in part due to the proliferation of mobile banking introducing new methods for attacks, such as app-based trojans and fake banking apps. Cybercriminals aim to steal funds, commit fraud, or gain unauthorized access to customer accounts. Importantly, because of the global financial system being deeply interconnected, a successful attack at one institution can have ripple effects far beyond its original target. 

Banks and financial institutions protect their assets by continuously monitoring for unusual activity and transactions and deploy strong encryption protocols to protect data from interception or tampering. They also regularly conduct penetration tests and security audits to identify weaknesses in their security strategies. 


Cyberattacks Involving Energy and Utilities 

The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, in which hackers were able to disrupt the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S., highlighted the vulnerability of the energy and utilities sector to cyberattack. These sectors are a high-priority target for cybercriminals due to their critical importance to national and economic security, where a successful attack could lead to major disruptions of basic services like electricity, gas, and water for millions of people. 

In addition to more universal practices like regular security audits and network traffic monitoring, the energy sector also physically separates some of its computer systems from external networks and the internet. Because that system is not connected to a potentially vulnerable network, cyberattacks become extremely difficult.  


oil pipeline


Cyberattacks on Government and Defense 

Government agencies and military organizations are high-value targets for cyberattacks. Geopolitical tensions and conflicts, their universal involvement in critical infrastructure and national security, and the large amount of classified and personal information stored in their systems make them attractive to hackers. Regardless of whether an attack is successful, the mere attempts can consume significant time and money. These attacks can compromise classified data, disrupt critical infrastructure, and launch espionage campaigns designed to advance political, ideological, or financial motives. 

Like financial institutions, government and defense use strong encryption and secure communication protocols to protect their data from interception and decryption. They also secure access to systems incredibly tightly and monitor sensitive data to prevent unauthorized access or leaks. With 95% of security breaches caused by human error and because of these industry’s considerable personnel numbers, these organizations regularly conduct trainings and security exercises to ensure compliance and responsiveness to potential attacks. 


Cyberattacks Targeting Retail 

Retailers process millions of transactions daily, and by storing customer payment information they are appeal targets to cybercriminals for financial gain through credit card fraud and identity theft. Point-of-sale systems are also vulnerable to malware and data breaches, with the vast majority of retail-related attacks occurring through these systems. 

As employees manage the point-of-sale system, regular training is critical. Behind the scenes, retailers implement end-to-end encryption on payments to protect customer data from interception or theft, as well as secure their online shopping platforms to detect fraud and spoofing the organizations website and emails. 


Protecting Industries from Cyberattacks with a Degree from Capitol Tech 

Every industry is vulnerable to cyberattacks, but because of the nature of their work or the data that they handle, some are common targets for hackers. Financial gain is often a key motivator for these attacks, but they’re also used to disrupt critical systems, cripple productivity, and harm adversaries. 

Capitol Technology University’s programs in Cyber and Information Security can prepare you to defend industries of all sizes from cyberattacks. For more information, contact our Admissions team at