Survey: 39 Percent of IT Professionals Say Phishing is the Most Feared Cyberattack

Axiad, a provider of organization-wide passwordless orchestration, today announced the results of its 2023 State of Authentication Survey. The survey investigated the types of cyberattacks respondents were most afraid of and prepared for, how their organizations held up against password-based attacks, if and why companies are still using passwords, and what cybersecurity technologies companies plan to use in 2024.

The survey, which was conducted in October 2023, collected more than 200 responses from U.S. information technology (IT) professionals, including hardware and software, across a variety of industry verticals, including financial, government, retail, manufacturing, healthcare, education, telecommunications and more.

Key findings from the survey revealed:

  • 39% indicated phishing is the most feared cyberattack, while 49% said it is the attack most likely to happen.
  • 88% felt their company was prepared to defend against a password-based cyberattack, yet 52% said their business has fallen victim to one within the last year.
  • Despite password woes, 93% of respondents are still using passwords for business, citing that the biggest reasons they still use them are fear of change (64%), the potential need to rip and replace technology (54%), time constraints (51%) and lack of staff (25%).
  • When asked whose fault they think exploited passwords are, respondents' answers varied: IT staff (35%), end users (32%), security teams (25%) and leadership (8%).
  • When asked what technologies respondents will use over the next year, 45% said they will use passwordless technology, and 27% said they will use phishing-resistant multi-factor authentication (MFA).
  • When asked which recent guidance has most impacted their organization's authentication strategy, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) came out on top (41%), followed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) (26%) and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) (13%).

"Generative AI has significantly lowered the entry barrier for cybercriminals to craft highly effective phishing emails, and when you combine that with poor password management, it's no surprise that the volume of successful phishing and password-based attacks continues to skyrocket," said Bassam Al-Khalidi, co-founder and co-CEO of Axiad. "The survey results are alarming because, despite the rising number of these cyberattacks, most companies are still stuck in the status quo of using passwords as their primary method of authentication. Fear of change is no excuse. Organizations need to act now to combat advanced cybercriminals, or they will continue to be at risk. In today's threat landscape, the most effective thing they can do to bolster their cybersecurity posture is implement passwordless authentication and phishing-resistant MFA."

For more data points from the survey, download the State of Authentication Survey report.

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