Ransomware’s Aftermath Worse than Ransom Itself, Report Claims

Around 22 percent of Australian small & medium sized businesses that suffered a ransomware attack had to immediately suspend operations, with 18 percent losing revenue as a result, a survey found.

According to Malwarebytes’ second annual State of Ransomware Report, the financial cost of such a disruption usually outweighs the size of the ransom being demanded.

Among Australian respondents to the survey that had fallen victim to ransomware attack, 81 percent were hit with demands of US$1000 ($1260) or less, with only 4 percent facing demands of over US$10,000 & none having demands for payments of more than US$50,000.

Over 55 percent of ransomware victims meanwhile chose not to pay the demanded ransom. Generally experts advise not to pay the ransom during ransomware attacks in case it encourages follow-up extortion attempts. Even among those choosing to pay, 40 percent said that they had lost their data files as a result of the decision.

The survey also found that around 31 percent of victims could not identify the source of a ransomware infection & among those that could, around 22 percent said it had been a malicious link in an email, while another 18 percent blamed an infected email attachment.

Malware infections can spread quickly throughout a network. More than 55 percent of businesses in Australia had up to a quarter of their endpoints infected, with another 15 percent having 26–50 percent of their endpoints infected.

“These results confirm the key problem with ransomware is not the ransom demand itself, but the wider impact that an attack has on a targeted business,” said Jim Cook, Malwarebytes ANZ Regional Director.

“The disabling of critical systems has a flow-on effect for everything from production and sales to customer service and support. They also demonstrate the reluctance of Australian businesses to yield to the demands of the criminals. Most clearly believe that they are better off to deal with any resulting fallout and get on with their daily activities.”

SMBs in Australia are meanwhile adopting a range of solutions that can help them address the threat of ransomware, including email security, data backups, network segmentation & even ransomware-specific solutions.

But while more than 1 in 3 Australian SMBs is running anti-ransomware technologies, 31 percent has still experienced a ransomware attack.

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