RANSOMWARE ATTACKS HAVE BEEN ON THER RISE AND ARE EXPECTED TO CONTINUE IN 2021
Know the risks and be prepared.
Only a few short years ago, ransomware (malicious software that encrypts data and prevents access until the intruder is paid a ransom for the decryption key) was a fairly exotic attack vector. By the end of 2020, it was clear that it is a primary cyberthreat facing businesses:
According to risk consultants Kroll, by the end of 2020, ransomware accounted for a third of all cyberattacks.
Threatpost reported that 40% of all cyber insurance claims filed in the first half of 2020 were related to ransomware.
These attacks are now all too common. The U.S.Treasury warned that “Over the past few years, such attacks have become more focused, sophisticated, costly, and numerous.”
Certain sectors of the economy were particularly hard hit. Security vendor Check Point discovered that attacks on global healthcare organizations (HCO) more than doubled in the last months of 2020, and there was a 45% increase in ransomware attacks on the healthcare sector.
As ransomware grew in pervasiveness, the costs associated with them have seen a concurrent rise. In 2018, the average ransom demand was just $5,000, according to Emsisoft. But, Cybersecurity firm Coveware reported that the average ransom payment spiked 31% in the third quarter of 2020, reaching $233,817.
Making matters worse, paying the ransom does not guarantee that the decryption key will be delivered or that sensitive data won’t be leaked. Cybersecurity Ventures found that even after paying a ransom, 16% of businesses never regained access to their data.
The cost of such a failure can be devastating, with businesses now spending an average of $4 million to fully recover — and that doesn’t address the reputational harm done. Of consumers surveyed by ITProPortal 49& said that they would stop using the services of an affected company. Yet, despite those clear and costly risks, many organizations are still failing to take proactive steps to avoid a ransomware attack and ensure rapid and complete data recovery in the event of one.
Gartner found that with a robust ransomware preparedness program, 90% of attacks are preventable. The tools are out there and some organizations are making use of them, leading to a 715% rise in detected and blocked ransomware attacks in 2020 as compared to the previous year, according to Bitdefender.
Ransomware has become so accessible and profitable that it is even supplanting traditional criminal enterprises. In 2021, it is forecast to cost businesses over $20 billion. Every business with digital infrastructure should be aware of these risks, put in place sufficient defenses and disaster planning protocols, and routinely educate their employees on avoiding ransomware and other cyberattacks.
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