Cyber ransom warning as study finds crooks seldom keep their word

Risk managers have been warned that paying a ransom to cyber criminals does not guarantee you will recover the data or systems that have been compromised.

Attack protection specialist Cybereason has today released the findings from a global ransomware study of nearly 1,300 security professionals that revealed more than half of organisations have been the victim of a ransomware attack. In the UK specifically, 305 companies were contacted and 84% of businesses that chose to pay a ransom demand suffered a second ransomware attack, often at the hands of the same threat actor group (53%).

The research also found that of the organisations in the UK who opted to pay a ransom demand to regain access to their encrypted systems, 43% reported that some or all of the data was corrupted during the recovery process.

The company said the findings underscore why it does not pay to pay ransomware attackers, and that organisations should focus on early detection and prevention strategies to end ransomware attacks at the earliest stages before critical systems and data are put in jeopardy.

“Ransomware attacks are a major concern for organisations across the globe, often causing massive business disruptions including the loss of income and valuable human resources as a direct result. In the case of the recent Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, disruptions were felt up and down the East Coast of the United States and negatively impacted other businesses who are dependent on Colonial’s operations,” said Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Cybereason, Lior Div.

The research found in the UK specifically, 47 percent of organisations reported significant loss of business following a ransomware attack. Of these individuals, 61% admitted to losing revenue.

In terms of ransom demands 51 percent of businesses that paid a ransom demand paid out between £250,000 – £1 million, while 4 percent paid ransoms exceeding £1 million.

Of those that responded 63 percent of organisations who admitted to losing business indicated that their brand and reputation were damaged as a result of a successful attack

Forty five percent of organisations who admitted to losing business reported losing C-Level talent as a direct result of ransomware attacks. In all 31 percent of those who admitted to losing business reported being forced to lay off employees due to financial pressures following a ransomware attack

A startling 34 percent of organisations who admitted to losing business reported that a ransomware attack forced the business to close down operations entirely.

Other key findings included in the full report reveal the extent to which losses to the business may be covered by cyber insurance, how prepared organisations are to address ransomware threats to the business with regard to adequate security policies and staffing, and more granular information on the impact of ransomware attacks by region, company size and industry vertical. In addition, the report provides actionable data on the types of security solutions organisations had in place prior to an attack, as well as which solutions were most often implemented by organisations after they experienced a ransomware attack.

“Paying a ransom demand does not guarantee a successful recovery, does not prevent the attackers from hitting the victim organisation again, and in the end only exacerbates the problem by encouraging more attacks,” added Div. “Getting in front of the threat by adopting a prevention-first strategy for early detection will allow organisations to stop disruptive ransomware before they can hurt the business.”

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