As we pass the halfway mark of 2024, data breaches remain on the rise. Cybercriminals are finding more and more inventive ways to infiltrate organizations, exploiting vulnerabilities in networks, software, and human behavior.

From phishing schemes and ransomware attacks to insider threats and supply chain compromises, the threat of cyber attacks continues. This is bad news, especially for certain industries. The consequences of these breaches extend far beyond financial losses. Companies that fall victim can face regulatory fines and civil legal problems.

Several industries have been targeted with data breaches, and it’s costing businesses in the US millions of dollars per breach in damages and recovery expenses.

What is the Cause of the Majority of Data Breaches?

The causes of data breaches can vary widely depending on the specific circumstances of each incident. However, some of the most common reasons that contribute to the majority of data breaches include:

  1. Human error: Mistakes made by employees, such as falling victim to phishing scams, misconfigured security settings, or accidental exposure of sensitive information.
  2. Weak passwords: Weak or easily guessable passwords, reused passwords across multiple accounts, or failure to update passwords regularly can make it easier for cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to systems and data.
  3. Vulnerabilities in software and systems: Vulnerabilities in software applications, operating systems, or network infrastructure are common tactics used by cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive data. Failure to promptly apply security patches and updates can leave systems susceptible to exploitation.
  4. Malware and ransomware: Malicious software such as malware and ransomware can infect systems and steal or encrypt sensitive data, causing significant operational disruptions and financial losses.
  5. Insider threats: Employees, contractors, or other trusted individuals with access to sensitive data may intentionally or unintentionally misuse or abuse their privileges.
  6. Third-party security risks: Outsourced services or reliance on third-party vendors for various functions can introduce additional security risks if proper due diligence is not conducted to assess the security practices and controls of these third parties.
  7. Lack of encryption: Failure to encrypt sensitive data in transit and at rest can leave it vulnerable to interception or theft by unauthorized individuals.
  8. Social engineering: Cybercriminals often use social engineering tactics, such as phishing, pretexting, or impersonation, to manipulate individuals into disclosing sensitive information or performing actions that compromise security.

The good news is that while the number of breaches rises, so too does awareness and investment in cybersecurity measures. In 2024, five industries have been targeted more often than others.

1. Manufacturing

According to the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2024, the most vulnerable industry to data breaching is manufacturing.

Manufacturing businesses are increasingly at risk of cyber threats, mainly from business partner and software supply chain attacks, as highlighted in the 2023 Cost of a Data Breach Report by IBM Security. These are some of the biggest cyber attacks, accounting for 15% and 12% respectively, of all cyber incidents.

Business partner attacks involve exploiting the connections and access points between manufacturers and their external partners, such as suppliers and distributors. This interconnectedness, while important for collaboration with partners, also introduces potential entry points for cybercriminals looking to steal valuable data or disrupt operations.

2. Healthcare

In 2024, the healthcare sector has been facing serious challenges towards keeping patient data safe. In fact, the number of healthcare data breaches in the United States has gradually increased within the past few years.

One of the main reasons behind this rise in healthcare data breaches is the increasing digitization of medical records and the adoption of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. While this technology offers a number of benefits in terms of efficiency and accessibility, it also introduces new vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cybercriminals.

The other major issue is that healthcare organizations around the world often struggle with limited resources and outdated infrastructure. This makes it much easier for cybercriminals to access private patient data and cause serious problems.

3. Digital Agencies

Digital agencies store valuable customer data, including personal information and security logins. To minimize the risk and liability involved when managing client data, Agencies are investing more than ever before to get ahead of cybersecurity threats.

The IBM 2023 Cost of a Data Breach Report highlighted that “82% of breaches involved data stored in the cloud. Organizations must look for solutions that provide visibility across hybrid environments and protect data as it moves across clouds, databases, apps, and services.”  

When acting as a third party to other organizations, the data stored by these agencies can be a goldmine for cybercriminals due to the volume of stored sensitive information.

Preventive measures should be put in place to improve client satisfaction and maintain compliance with data protection regulations such as:

  • Regular training for your workforce to recognize phishing attempts.
  • Opting for a secure reseller hosting platform for an additional level of security and client data protection. 
  • Implementing advanced email security solutions and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).

4. Retail and E-commerce

Over the past few years, we’ve seen some big data breaches in the retail sector, with one study pointing out that North America had the largest fraudulent transaction value of any regional market. Specifically, the region accounted for over 42% of global ecommerce fraud (by value) in 2023.

The research cited the vast volume of data breaches and the broad availability of stolen credit card information as the key risk factors in this market. 37% of all breaches involved payment card data information according to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.

5. Tech Companies

While tech companies should naturally be better equipped to handle data breaches and cyber threats, the reality is that they are not immune to such incidents.

One of the primary reasons for this vulnerability is the vast amount of sensitive data that tech companies possess. From personal information to proprietary technology, these firms look after data that is highly valuable to cybercriminals. Additionally, the rapid pace of innovation in the tech industry means that new vulnerabilities are constantly emerging, challenging even the most advanced cybersecurity measures.

One tech company suffered a data breach that cost them $350 million in 2022 – and that was just in customer payouts. That same company then fell victim to two more breaches during 2023, putting more customer data at risk. Tech companies face more unique challenges in securing their systems, particularly due to the interconnected nature of their products and services.

Despite these challenges, tech companies are increasingly investing in cybersecurity measures to protect their systems and data. This includes implementing advanced encryption protocols, conducting regular security audits, and investing in employee training to raise awareness about cybersecurity risks.


While these industries are more vulnerable to data breaches, they are also at the forefront of efforts to strengthen cybersecurity practices and mitigate risks. The increasing frequency and severity of data breaches highlight how important it is for these industries to bolster their cyber security measures.

Being cybersmart can help you avoid data breaches and keep your client’s data safe from potential attacks.

Tim Green is deeply passionate about cybersecurity and enjoys covering topics specifically for the fintech & SaaS industries. Having specialised in online security for much of his career, Tim frequently contributes to leading industry publications to share and expand his knowledge and skillset with the wider community.

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Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire.