Malware in documents biggest cyber threat to finance and legal industry

Criminals use a variety of methods to maximise damage yet most staff not trained to deal with cyber attacks


More than half of all UK businesses were the victims of cyber attacks in 2019. The biggest threat to the business, finance and legal industry is macro malware in documents.

A new report from Specops Software found that malicious programmes most commonly find their way into the IT systems of financial companies via phishing emails that contain malicious attachments.

Specops asked 1,731 respondents from a range of sectors whether they or their company had experienced a cyber-attack in the last five years. Participants were then asked to identify which forms of hacking they had fallen victim to.

Business, finance and legal companies fall victim most often to macro malware in documents. According to the survey, 51 per cent reported opening a document with a hidden virus or piece of malware.

Yet 72 per cent of these companies offered no workplace cyber security training and 64 per cent failed to employ preventative or defensive measures after a security breach.

In the advertising, marketing, PR and media industries, users suffered most from "waterhole attacks" (59 per cent). This is where criminals target websites where users with interest or industries in common are likely to visit. They then attempt to infect their computers while they are browsing the hacked websites.

For government IT systems, the most common attack was via burrowing malware (37 per cent).

Respondents were asked to comment on how serious the breaches had been on their company. An overwhelming 83 per cent stated they thought the business had lost clients and/or public trust as a consequence.

FURTHER READING: EU report identifies 5G security risks

FURTHER READING: US private equity group to acquire Sophos for $3.9 billion

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