42% of executives experienced severe cyberattacks in the past 2 years

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Atlas VPN found a recently released and first-of-its-kind survey which reveals that 42% of executives or their family members experienced a cyberattack, which resulted in consequences as severe as a data breach of the whole company.

The survey, released in May 2023, was a collaborative effort between BlackCloak and the Ponemon Institute, shedding light on the escalating severity of cyber threats faced by executives. Shockingly, the study also revealed that the majority of organizations lack the necessary measures to prevent or mitigate potential damage caused by such attacks.

Drawing insights from over 500 cybersecurity professionals across various industries, the research demonstrated that 42% of companies had already encountered cybercriminals targeting executives or their families, leading to severe and far-reaching negative outcomes.

cyberattacks on executives

These consequences of these attacks comprised the loss of customers or business partners (66%), sensitive financial data theft (47%), loss of valuable corporate assets such as intellectual property (36%), damage to reputation (33%), loss of customer or employee data (27%), business strategies (24%), or research and development data (18%).

Dr. Larry Ponemon, Chairman and Founder of the Ponemon Institute, expressed deep concern over the findings that 62% of organizations lack a dedicated team equipped to prevent or respond effectively to cyberattacks targeting executives and their families.

79% of respondents are of the opinion that future cyberattacks on these executives are likely. This indicates the urgency of addressing this problem rather than ignoring it.

Dr. Chris Pierson, CEO and Founder of BlackCloak, emphasized the study’s findings as a reflection of their team’s firsthand experiences and aligning with the insights gathered from senior cybersecurity leaders.

The readiness of corporations to tackle cyber threats aimed at executives’ personal lives is gravely inadequate. Only a mere 9% of cybersecurity professionals expressed strong confidence in their CEO or executives’ capacity to safeguard their personal computers from viruses, while only 22% felt assured in their leaders’ ability to secure their personal emails.

These disconcerting statistics paint a bleak picture of the overall digital security practices observed among company executives

Types of threats targeting leaders

Researchers have identified a wide range of cybercriminal threats that specifically target the personal digital lives of executives. These threats encompass various tactics aimed at compromising their privacy and security.

According to the research, the most prevalent form of attack is the exposure of executives’ home addresses, personal cell phone numbers, and personal email accounts, with a significant 57% of respondents reporting such incidents within the past two years.

In addition to this, executives have also encountered other alarming threats, including malware infections on personal or family devices (56%), email compromise (42%), online impersonation (34%), ransomware attacks (31%), and even physical assaults such as swatting (25%).

cyberattacks on executives

Cybercriminals strategically target executives and other high-access personnel as they present vulnerable entry points into enterprises. Exploiting the personal digital lives of these individuals has become a favored tactic, posing significant challenges for organizations striving to protect themselves from such threats.

In light of this evolving landscape, it is crucial for IT security teams to proactively identify effective measures to safeguard both the digital assets of their companies and the personal online safety of executives.

Read more here.

Read next: Human error is the top cause of cloud data breaches in APAC – 2023 Thales data threat report

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