Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Industry: Second-Most Attacked Sector in 2016

The information and communication technology (ICT) industry has evolved greatly over the last several decades. The interconnected nature of ICT devices and systems, along with modern society’s dependence on the technologies and services this sector provides, increases the risk of cyberattack. Furthermore, firms in this industry often act as a clearinghouse or storehouse for data gathered from other industries.

A Poor Outlook for the ICT Sector

Not surprisingly, the 2017 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index revealed that ICT was the second-most attacked industry in 2016. The average IBM X-Force-monitored client in this sector experienced 113 percent more attacks than the average cross-industry client (see Figure 1), clearly contributing to this sector’s high placement among most attacked industries in 2016.

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Figure 1: Comparison of organizations monitored by IBM for 2016, cross-industry clients versus information and communication sector clients. (Source: IBM Managed Security Services data, Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2016)

Over 3.3 Billion Records Compromised Globally

IBM X-Force Interactive Security Incidents data is a sampling of notable publicly disclosed incidents. Included are breaches, which are incidents resulting in the exfiltration of data. As Figure 2 shows, there was no shortage of incidents affecting information and communication technology organizations globally.

screen shots to accompany Michelle Alvarez's blog about Info Comms

Figure 2: Notable 2016 publicly disclosed information and communication technology security incidents. (Source: IBM X-Force Interactive Security Incidents data)

With an unprecedented 3.3-plus billion records breached, the information and communication technology sector experienced the most records compromised out of all industries in 2016.

Recommendations and Mitigation

A new IBM research paper focused on the top attacks detected against the information and communication technology sector. Since the top ICT security threat involved attackers attempting to gain unauthorized access by manipulating system data structures, deploying a security testing solution can help prevent buffer overflow and other vulnerabilities. We recommend reviewing the report for other best practice guidelines.

Read the X-Force Research Report: Security trends in the information and communication technology industry

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Michelle Alvarez

Threat Researcher and Editor, IBM Managed Security Services

Michelle Alvarez is a Threat Researcher and Editor for IBM's Managed Security Services; she brings more than 10 years of industry experience to her role. In this role she focuses communications efforts around threat research and mitigation. Michelle joined IBM through the Internet Security Services (ISS) acquisition, where she served as an Analyst on the X-Force Vulnerability Database Team.