Cybercrime has risen to become one of the biggest threats in the business landscape, with firms at all levels and within all industries susceptible to cyberattacks and data breaches. The question is, do some companies present an easier target than others? And what can this tell us about the motivations of cybercriminals?
Our recent guide on the biggest data breaches in history highlighted some interesting correlations between certain industries and cybercrime frequency. For instance, web, healthcare, and financial firms were among the most breached sectors, suggesting that businesses within these industries should take a proactive approach to deflecting cyberattacks.
Given the findings of our previous study, we were keen to dig deeper and find out exactly which businesses present the biggest targets for cybercriminals. So, that’s what we did, analysing Google search data to compile a list of companies that have grown to become the world’s most prevalent cyberattacking targets.
We analysed search intent by digging out the number of searches for terms including ‘how to hack [xyz]’. Although career cybercriminals are likely to use more nefarious means to research and test their hacking processes, Google search data provides an insight into global intent and changing trends.
Take a look at what our research brought to light below.
Top Cyber-Hacking Targets Around the World
It’s perhaps unsurprising that global corporations and media companies are among the biggest targets for cybercriminals. With millions of users, sprawling, multi-site teams, and a rich well of digital assets, some companies present an attractive and easy target for practised hackers, as our visual guide below demonstrates.
WhatsApp is the number one target for hacking worldwide, with an average of 201,000 searches per month in the last year, followed by Facebook (60,500) and Instagram (40,500). And this should come as no surprise, with messaging apps/video call providers, social networking and media/entertainment businesses dominating the entire top 10 list of cyber-hacking targets.
What’s perhaps most interesting about the findings of our study, in a global sense, is the pace of change within the cybercrime ecosystem. This is best demonstrated by the huge increase in hacking-related searches surrounding Zoom, which rose from 10 to 14,800 per month at the start of the pandemic – a 147,900% increase.
Similarly, searches for hacking Microsoft Teams increased from 30 to 1,600 (Feb 2020 vs. April 2020), another astronomical increase of 5,233%. This paints a worrying picture of the intent and motivation behind cybercrime, with hackers stopping at nothing in their attempts to disrupt daily life for businesses and individuals.
On an industry level, the variances between different sectors were startling. Messaging apps/video call providers, social networking and media/entertainment businesses made up the majority of monthly hacker-related searches, with industries such as travel, gaming, and telecommunications accounting for just a fraction of these three sectors.
Take a look at our chart to see how different industries fared from a global standpoint.
While industries like banking and finance didn’t attract as many hacking-related searches as communications and social media companies, it’s worth noting that such industries present a formidable challenge for cybercriminals.
In order to keep sensitive financial information secure, banking firms invest heavily in cybersecurity. As such, they present a high value but ultimately very challenging target for hackers, who may prefer the quick wins afforded by social media and communications companies.
Top Cyber-Hacking Targets in the UK
Social media and communication companies may present high-value targets within the global hacker landscape, but how do things stand in the UK? Unfortunately for the likes of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, our list of cyber-hacking targets in the UK doesn’t make for good reading, with social media companies once again dominating the top 10.
Take a closer look at the results below.
WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube all appear in the top 10, reinforcing the notion that social and communications companies are the single-most targeted digital entities in the world. While this is unsurprising given the scale of such enterprises, it does emphasise the importance of increased vigilance and strong passwords when using and interacting with such platforms.
From an industry point of view, the UK results were also very similar to the global outlook. Messaging apps/video call providers, social networking and media/entertainment businesses once again dominated the top three, with the gambling, gaming and travel sectors completing the top 10.
Exploring the data more deeply, it’s incredible to see the extent to which hackers attempt to access such a broad range of websites, services, and platforms. For example, looking at the results from industry to industry, it’s clear that hackers systematically target businesses of every size and persuasion – from media companies such as Spotify and Netflix, to e-commerce brands including eBay, tech businesses such as Adobe, and banking services like PayPal.
Take a look at our full industry-by-industry results below
Again, from an individual user point of view, this illustrates the importance of using strong passwords and staying vigilant to suspicious activity. With hackers targeting brands in every industry and of any size, personal security when shopping and interacting online has never been more important.
What’s more, and perhaps more importantly, our findings highlight just how vital it is that businesses continue to invest in and leverage the latest cybersecurity solutions. If our study shows us one thing it’s that hackers continue to adapt to changing trends, with the increase in Zoom-related searches providing proof of their intent to find vulnerabilities within popular platforms.
The Top Cyber-Hacking Targets in Ireland
Given that it’s one of Europe’s most prominent centres for the tech industry, Ireland experiences its share of cybercriminality. And, as with the UK and the rest of the world, it seems social media companies are among the most at-risk businesses when it comes to the hacker threat – with the likes of WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook all appearing in the top 10.
Take a look at the full results for cyber-hacking targets in Ireland below.
While searches related to cybercrime are significantly lower in Ireland than the UK, the same types of companies appear in the list. However, what is interesting to note is that online gaming platform Roblox appears in the number two spot, second only to WhatsApp in terms of overall cybercrime-related searches.
Regional variances of this nature raise questions about why some companies are targeted over others in different parts of the world. Could localised hacker networks be to blame? Or is it a matter of coincidence that certain companies fall victim to cybercrime over others?
How We Did It
Intact analysed Google search data to discover the cyber-hacking targets that were most in demand. By gathering lists of suspected targets from different industries, Intact analysed each of those alongside the term ‘how to hack [xyz]’ to determine the targets that were most searched for.
Full results can be here:
So, there you have it, a detailed look at the biggest cyber-hacking targets in the world and the industries that are most at risk from cybercrime. At Intact, we’re experts in helping companies leverage the latest business management solutions, providing a range of options and secure deployment infrastructures to suit your bespoke requirements. For more information or a free consultation, visit the homepage or contact us today.