Understanding The Unrecognized Costs of Ransomware Attacks

Understanding The Unrecognized Costs of Ransomware Attacks

Paying the ransom is just the beginning!

Ransomware, one of the fastest-growing hazards companies today. Ransomware threatens businesses and public institutions around the world. A particularly malicious and rapidly evolving species of software, it infects computers and mobile devices, often spreading across networks to other devices. Once it compromises a system, it quietly encrypts every data file it finds, then displays a ransom note to the user demanding an online payment of thousands or millions of dollars (to be paid in crypto-currency) in return for the decryption keys needed to restore the user’s locked file.

Nearly 3 out of 4 companies infected with ransomware suffer at least two days or more without access to their data

The frightening costs of ransomware attacks

 

In planning defensive strategies, IT professionals must recognize that the cost of a ransomware attack goes far beyond the ransom that they pay. Companies have reported that other costs associated with an attack include downtime, lost sales opportunities, angry customers, the expense of attack mitigation and recovery, damage to company brand reputation, penalties for unmet contractual obligations to customers, and fines for non-compliance. This can make the cost of the ransom look trivial.

Ransomware attacks have wreaked havoc with extensive downtime and economic harm on many industries, including law enforcement agencies, local municipalities, manufacturers, shipping companies, financial services institutions, healthcare providers, and transportation systems around the world. Here are just a few examples:

  • The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS). The global WannaCry outbreak of 2017, which afflicted over 200,000 computers in over 150 countries, brought hundreds of NHS facilities to a standstill for several days, resulting in the cancellation of thousands of operations and appointments and the frantic relocation of emergency patients from stricken emergency centers.
  • Erie County Medical Center (New York, USA), which lost access to 6000 computers, requiring six weeks of manual operations and a recovery process that ultimately cost US$10M.
  • Danish transportation and logistics giant Maersk suffered $300M of business interruption losses due to a ransomware attack. The downtime forced a 20% drop in its shipping volume when it had to fall back to manual operations during the recovery effort, which required Maersk to re-install 4000 servers, 45,000 PCs, and 2500 applications over ten days.

Disturbing facts about ransomware’s hidden costs

Industry researchers have compiled some scary facts and statistics about the cost and frequency of ransomware attacks:

  • According to the Tech Transformers, ransomware attacks cost smaller companies an average of $713,000 per incident, a combination of the expense of downtime and lost business due to reputational harm.
  • Law enforcement and security experts agree that paying the ransom is a very poor defense: over half of ransomware victims who pay do not successfully recover their files, either because the extortionists fail to deliver the promised keys or have implemented the encryption/decryption algorithms so poorly that the keys don’t work.
  • Recovering files from backup and restoring encrypted systems is often easier said than done. According to Intermedia research, nearly three out of four companies infected with ransomware suffer two days or more without access to their files. Around 30% go 5 days or longer without access. The recent ransomware attack on the City of Atlanta (Georgia, USA) found it unable to access its systems after nearly two weeks.
  • As more ransomware victims heed the experts’ advice not to pay the ransom, the rate of total ransomware attacks keeps rising, with criminals turning their sights on verticals like healthcare and law enforcement that tend to be more willing to pay because of the life-and-death consequences that can result from computer downtime in their fields.
  • Ransomware is projected to attack one business every 14 seconds by the end of 2019, up from every 40 seconds in 2018. According to other statistics, 71% of companies targeted by ransomware attacks have been infected, and half of successful ransomware attacks infect at least 20 computers in the company.

71% of companies targeted by ransomware attacks have been infected, and half of successful ransomware attacks infect at least 20 computers in the company.

How business and public institutions can fight back!

In the face of this rapidly growing threat, businesses and public institutions can take concrete steps to protect their systems from the operational disruptions and high costs of ransomware attacks. Step one is to start educating employees on the techniques that ransomware distributors use, teaching them to be cautious about the online advertisements and email links they click on, the websites they visit, and the attachments they open.

Good network and security hygiene measures remain important, like segmenting networks to make it harder for ransomware to spread from system to system, keeping endpoint anti-malware software up-to-date, and patching known vulnerabilities in operating systems and applications as quickly as possible.

Finally, given the high success rate of ransomware attacks, it is imperative to institute a rigorous backup regimen and keep multiple copies of critical business and patient data both locally, offsite and in the cloud. Routine, frequent backup remains the most foolproof defense against ransomware: if your systems are compromised, you can simply identify the onset of the attack and restore your systems from clean backups created before the incursion.

 

What can you do today?

To avoid becoming victims of the next widespread ransomware attack, businesses and public institutions will have to deploy the basic measures outlined above and consider and over all look at their infrastructure to protect them not just from ransomware but for future attacks that we don’t even know yet.

At JAYCO Cloud Computing Solutions we are passionate about the safe of our clients and their data and we will help put together a comprehensive plan for your whole infrastructure. Ransomware Protection is just the start, your company need a whole plan on getting secure and  stay secure for whatever the future hold. Call us today!

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