Which UK Industries Are Most Prone to Cyber Attacks?

Over the last 12 months, 32% of businesses and 24% of charities in the UK experienced a cyber attack. Recent qualitative evidence suggests that cybersecurity plans have dropped down the priority lists for these smaller organisations, likely to wider economic concerns like inflation and uncertainty, leading to an increase in cybersecurity breaches. 

But which industries find themselves at the wrong end of a cyber attack the most? Keep reading as we take a look at the top  most vulnerable sectors in the UK.




The hospitality industry is increasingly susceptible to cyber threats, primarily due to the vast amounts of personal and financial information it stores. Hotels, resorts, and related entities handle extensive guest data, including payment card details, personal identifiers, and travel information.

This trove of data makes them attractive targets for cybercriminals. With systems interconnected across global networks, including public Wi-Fi offered to guests and internal access to cloud databases by staff, the industry’s digital infrastructure is particularly exposed. The nature of this data not only necessitates stringent security measures but also makes compliance with data protection regulations critically important. Without robust cybersecurity protocols, the potential for data breaches is significantly heightened, posing risks not only to guest privacy but also to the financial and operational stability of hospitality businesses.


Marriott’s High-Profile Cyber Attack: A Case Study


In a stark illustration of these vulnerabilities, the Marriott International cyber attack in 2018 resulted in the compromise of nearly 400 million customer records. This breach included 9.1 million encrypted credit card numbers and more than 23 million passport numbers, both encrypted and unencrypted, along with other personal details such as names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.

The fallout from this incident was severe, with Marriott facing substantial restoration costs for its systems, regulatory fines, and class-action litigation. Beyond the immediate financial implications, the breach inflicted long-lasting damage on Marriott’s brand reputation, highlighting the critical need for robust cybersecurity measures in the hospitality industry.



Public sector healthcare entities are especially vulnerable to supply chain attacks, which manipulate the inherent trust within the system to access protected health information. These entities manage a wealth of sensitive patient data, making them prime targets for cybercriminals looking to sell data on the black market.

The interconnected nature of suppliers to these institutions often lacks stringent security measures, providing an easier path for attackers aiming to access richer, more secure databases.


Legal Sector


Legal firms are inherently at risk of cyber threats due to the sensitive nature of the data they handle, including client information, case files, and financial details. Those specializing in corporate or property law are particularly at risk due to the high stakes involved.

Cybercriminals target legal firms not only for direct financial gain but also for the potential to influence political, economic, or ideological arenas through the data they can access.


4. HR & Recruitment


The human resources and recruitment sectors are fertile ground for cyber attackers due to the valuable personal information they handle, such as social security numbers, bank account details, and personal addresses. This sector is susceptible to a variety of cyber threats including payroll fraud, recruitment scams, and corporate espionage.

Moreover, a breach in HR databases can pave the way for further attacks on other parts of the business, leveraging stolen data to craft more convincing phishing campaigns or commit identity theft.


5. Manufacturing


The manufacturing sector, encompassing automotive, electronics, and pharmaceuticals, is critically vulnerable to cybercrime. The industry’s reliance on proprietary software and intellectual property makes it a lucrative target for cybercriminals.

Manufacturing firms often face challenges in updating and patching their systems, which can leave them exposed to newer, sophisticated cyber threats designed to exploit these vulnerabilities.


6. Financial Sector


The financial industry faces a broad spectrum of cyber threats that extend well beyond traditional theft. Banks, insurance companies, and asset managers are among those that deal with high-risk exposure due to the sensitive financial information they possess.

Cyber threats range from consumer-grade malware to advanced persistent threats orchestrated by organized crime syndicates or even state-sponsored actors. The sector’s foundational role in national and global economies also makes it a target for those looking to disrupt economic stability through cyber attacks.