What Industries Are the Most Vulnerable to Cybersecurity Risk?

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering why cybersecurity is important to pay attention to, or how it might affect your business, you’ve come to the right place. With cyber threats evolving each day, understanding why cybersecurity is important is the first step to protecting not only your financial and personal data, but also the integrity of your business. This post delves into the industries most prone to cyber attacks, emphasising the need for robust cybersecurity within the broader scope of risk management. We’ll dive into facts like:

  • What is cybersecurity?
  • Why cybersecurity is important
  • Industries at the forefront of cybersecurity risks
  • Cybersecurity and risk management practices 
  • Future trends in cybersecurity, and more 

What is cybersecurity? 

Ask Cisco, and they’ll tell you that “cybersecurity is the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks.” In a world where technology is present in every aspect of our lives, cybersecurity has become a critical line of defence against the growing threat of cybercrimes and cyberattacks.

At its core, cybersecurity encompasses a wide range of strategies, technologies, and best practices aimed at safeguarding data, infrastructure, and systems from a multitude of threats. These threats can take various forms, including:

  • Malware: Malicious software, such as viruses, worms, Trojans, and ransomware, designed to infiltrate and compromise computer systems.
  • Phishing: Deceptive techniques used to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information, often through fake emails, websites, or messages.
  • Data Breaches: Unauthorised access to sensitive data, leading to its exposure, theft, or manipulation.
  • Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks: Overwhelming a system or network with excessive traffic, causing it to become unavailable to legitimate users.
  • Social Engineering: Manipulating individuals into divulging confidential information or performing actions that compromise security.
  • Insider Threats: Security risks posed by individuals within an organisation, whether intentional or unintentional, who may misuse their access privileges.

Why cybersecurity is important 

Cybersecurity is no longer a luxury but a necessity. By 2025, it’s predicted that cybercrime will cost the world $10.5 trillion annually—a harsh reminder of the stakes involved. And if that statistic isn’t close enough to home: 

  • More than two thirds of Canadian executives consider cyber crime their biggest threat in 2023 [PWC]. 
  • On average, up to 10 percent of all cyberattacks on Canadian businesses were successful in 2023, according to a survey of more than 500 IT security professionals [CDW]. 
  • Canadian businesses report an average downtime of two weeks or more when experiencing a cyberattack [CDW]. 

These statistics go to show that the importance of cybersecurity lies in its ability to shield businesses, educational institutions, and individuals from the catastrophic consequences of data breaches. As we rely more on digital platforms, our responsibility to protect sensitive information only grows. 

Industries at the forefront of cybersecurity risks

Due to the nature of their data and operations, certain industries face heightened cybersecurity threats. It’s important to note that businesses of all shapes and sizes can fall victim to an attack—these are simply the industries with the most prevalent incident rates: 

Financial Services

Banks and financial institutions are goldmines for cybercriminals. A report by Boston Consulting Group predicted that these institutions are 300 times more likely to experience cyber attacks compared to other sectors. The reason is clear: they store vast amounts of sensitive financial data.


The healthcare sector is extremely vulnerable to cyber attacks. Since 2015, at least 15 cyberattacks have targeted Canadian healthcare information systems. Half of Canadians have received medical care online for the first time since the pandemic—and these breaches not only compromise patient privacy, but can also hamper critical care. 


Cybersecurity for schools has become a critical issue. Educational institutions are targets for cyber attacks due to the vast amounts of student and research data they hold. On average, 21% of educational services in Canada have been impacted by a cyber security incident that affected operations.

Retail and E-Commerce

Retail has emerged as the third most attacked industry in Canada, accounting for 10 per cent of all attacks that IBM X-Force remediated in 2022. Data breaches in this sector often involve stealing credit card information and personal data of millions of customers.

Whether you operate within these industries or not, it’s likely that your business possesses some form of financial or personal information that could become a threat in the wrong hands. This is why it’s critical to have a cybersecurity strategy in place for your business. 

Cybersecurity and risk management practices 

Integrating cybersecurity into risk management strategies is important in any industry. It involves assessing potential cyber risks, implementing robust cybersecurity measures, and continuously monitoring for breaches. Regular cybersecurity audits, employee awareness training, and investing in advanced security technologies are vital components of a comprehensive risk management strategy.

That said, cybersecurity is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but a multifaceted approach tailored to your specific needs and vulnerabilities. It involves several key components, such as: 

  • Security Policies: Establishing clear guidelines and rules for security within your organisation, including password policies, data encryption, and access controls.
  • Security Awareness: Ensuring that employees and users are educated about cybersecurity risks and best practices to minimise the human factor in security breaches.
  • Firewalls and Antivirus Software: Employing technologies that act as barriers against unauthorised access and malicious software.
  • Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDPS): Implementing tools that detect and respond to suspicious activities or breaches in real time.
  • Regular Updates and Patch Management: Keeping software, operating systems, and applications up to date to address known vulnerabilities.
  • Incident Response Plans: Preparing for the worst-case scenario with well-defined plans for how to respond to security incidents.

The importance of cybersecurity extends beyond technology—it is an essential element of risk management and business continuity, making it vital for organisations of all sizes and sectors to prioritise.

Future trends in cybersecurity

As technology advances, so do the tactics of cybercriminals. Businesses and institutions should stay abreast of these developments to protect themselves against ever-evolving cyber risks. According to PWC’s Canadian Cyber Threat Intelligence Report, here’s what to look out for in the future: 

1) AI will reshape the cyber threat landscape

Generative AI platforms and solutions could become targets in 2023 and beyond. Organisations will need to embrace these platforms, but also introduce controls to optimize security. 

2) Increased sophistication of ransomware operators

Ransomware will be one of the most critical cyber threats to Canadian organisations, and criminals will use increasingly sophisticated strategies to drive larger ransom demands.

3) Data breaches will remain a key threat

Particularly breaches that are the result of third-party compromise. Organisations should consider security risks associated with supply chain partners and other third parties.

4) Geopolitical tensions will drive threats

The targets of these attacks won’t necessarily be limited to governments—organisations in critical infrastructure and the key industries above could also find themselves at risk.

5) Threats focused on IoT devices will increase

The power that Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices offer make them a target for disrupting business operations, public safety and national security.

If you haven’t heard it before, you’ll hear it here: when it comes to your data breach, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but rather ‘when’. So, taking proactive measures to implement a strong cybersecurity strategy is your best bet when it comes to safeguarding your business. Learn how IX can help you protect your organisation today. 

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