A new report produced by UK-based insurance firm Beazley has said that smaller companies are at more risk from cyber threats than their largest competitors. During the first half of 2016, the number of malware and hacking attempts on those in the financial sector increased sharply. This is particularly true for firms with revenues under $35 million, it was revealed. As a result, those in the financial sector must take the matter of cyber security seriously, training employees and using new technology to safeguard themselves.
Publishing data based on customer-reported data breaches, the Beazley Breach Insights report revealed that there had been a rise in attacks on financial institutions, particularly credit unions and banks. Compared to 2015, there have also been persistent attack levels noted for the higher education, retail and healthcare sectors.
The report showed that 955 data breaches have been uncovered by Beazley Breach Response Services unit for the year’s first six months. This compares to 611 breaches reported for the same period in 2015. 139 of this year’s attacks have taken place in the financial sector, with small institutions commonly attacked. In fact, credit unions and banks with an annual revenue of under $35 million experienced 81 per cent of the attacks. In the healthcare industry, 42 per cent of all sector breaches were caused by unintended disclosure, a rise from the 30 per cent noted last year. This is attributed to data being stolen as it transitions between organisations. Finally, malware and hacking in the retail sector remains high and accounts for 49 per cent of all breaches.
Beazley Breach Response Services Global Head Katherine Keefe said: “The persistent high levels of hacking and malware attacks are a reminder that all organisations in all industries need to have plans ready to respond when a breach occurs. The large increase we’ve observed in hacks aimed at financial institutions is noteworthy. Smaller banks and credit unions that typically have fewer defenses against these breaches are becoming bigger targets and need to be prepared.”
On the back of the discovery, Keefe suggests that financial institutions should do more to shore up their technological defences. In addition, employees need the correct training to combat threat awareness and cyber security. Keefe stated: “There is a lot they can do to protect themselves, but the sobering reality is that not every breach can be prevented and businesses – including financial institutions – should have robust plans for managing breaches should they occur.”
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