Biggest cyber threat to the marketing, advertising, media and PR industries identified

Biggest cyber threat to the marketing, advertising, media and PR industries identified

Research by Specops Software has found that the biggest cyber threat to the marketing industry is a so-called ‘waterhole attack’. As many as 59% of cyber attacks on advertising, marketing, media and PR companies were of this nature, according to the research, which included other industries.

A ‘waterhole attack’ is so named as it resembles the strategy of predators in nature who know that at some point their victim will visit the waterhole to drink, and this will present an attack opportunity.

To target a particular group or industry, hackers observe their online behaviour, identify websites that the group visits commonly, and infects those sites with malware. Eventually, a user from that group will become infected. Worryingly, the cyber security industry says waterhole attacks are hard to both detect and research.

During 2019, more than half of all UK businesses reported cyber attacks and recent attacks of Britain’s nuclear industry have served to illustrate how few companies can be considered safe.

Are you protected?

In the research, Specops Software asked employees whether cyber security training had been offered in their workplace during the time period of the research.

In advertising, marketing, media and PR a staggering 75% said ‘no’. In total, only 17% had received recent training while eight percent were ‘unsure’.

Cyber security firms always advise that following a security breach it is vital that companies prioritise protection against future attacks. The reality is, however, that this advice is often overlooked, concludes the findings. When asked, 61% of respondents said no further action was taken.

Only 24% said action had been taken while the rest were unsure. This despite the fact that 81% said they believed that breaches could lose them client and/or public trust. Only 12% said they thought it would not.

Take these steps now to protect your company

Darren James, Cyber Security Expert at Specops Software, provides the following tips and reminders on how to stay safe online:

  • “Always update. This includes antivirus software. Programmes are constantly updated, and every update provides vital patches and bug fixes. Missing any of these could expose a weakness to potential hackers.
  • “Nip it in the bud. At the first sign of strange activity, for example, unusually large data usage, slow service, pop-ups and so on, flag it. A superior will be able to carry out necessary checks and prevent a potential virus from worsening.
  • “Don’t believe everything you read. Many still fall for easy phishing scams and clickbait viruses, resulting in serious security breaches. Always question what is presented to you.
  • “If in doubt, refrain from clicking. It’s better to be safe than sorry. There’s no way to know the contents of a document or link before opening, especially as hackers adapt to the improving technological space. Ask for advice, but ultimately avoid it if you are unsure.”

The methodology

Specops Software enlisted 1,731 respondents from a range of UK industries for the research, also including business, finance, legal, education and retail sectors. Respondents were asked to choose from an extensive list to which forms of hacking they had fallen victim. The choices ranged from Bait and Switch, Browser Locker and Burrowing Malware to Cookie Theft (Side Jacking/Session Hijacking), Denial of Service and Fake WAP.