IBM Security released the latest results from its annual review of the X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, showing, among other things, that the finance and insurance industries remain at the top of the company’s list of industries most often attacked by cyber criminals.  

The report, written for security professionals, highlights how cyber attacks evolved in 2020 “as threat actors sought to profit from the unprecedented socioeconomic, business and political changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, IBM Security X-Force observed attackers pivoting their attacks to businesses for which global COVID-19 response efforts heavily relied.” 

It found that cyber attacks on health care institutions, manufacturing and energy doubled in 2020. That said, these still came in second to the number of attacks aimed at the finance and insurance sectors during the year. “Each year, X-Force identifies the top 10 most attacked industries and ranks them according to percentage of attacks. For the fifth year in a row, the finance and insurance industry was the most attacked industry, underscoring the significant interest threat actors have in these organizations.” 

The report also examines the top spoofed brands in 2020, top attacks types and top initial attack vectors in 2020, most exploited vulnerabilities, new malware threats, geographical trends, the rise of ransomware – the cause of nearly one in four attacks that the firm responded to in 2020 – and the threats facing cloud computing. “With attackers’ sights set on clouds, X-Force recommends that organisations should consider a zero-trust approach to their security strategy,” they write. 

Breaking down attack types, IBM adds that finance and insurance industry companies were the target of 17 per cent of the recorded data theft attacks, while nearly 36 per cent of the server access attacks the group responded to in 2020 targeted finance and insurance industry companies.