Ransomware threats to businesses are rocketing, and UK firms are among the hardest hit, according to new insights from Malwarebytes.
The firm surveyed 540 CIOs, CISOs and IT chiefs at organisations with an average headcount of 5,400 in the UK, US, Germany and Canada. Around 40 per cent have been affected by ransomware, and a third lost revenue as a result.
The majority of ransomware attacks come via a single end point, and 46 per cent begin with a dodgy email.
What’s more, the crooks are clearly reaping the rewards of such attacks as 40 per cent of all firms pay the ransom to get the data unlocked.
Around 60 per cent of attacks demand $1,000 to unlock data, while 20 per cent ask for more than $10,000 and one per cent ask for over $100,000.
The situation is particularly bad from a UK perspective. Some 54 per cent of UK companies have been hit by ransomware, despite 87 per cent believing that they had the defences in place to stop such attacks.
Even more worrying is that UK companies lost the most in revenue of all nations to ransomware, up to 21 times more than US companies. This may have something to do with the fact that UK IT staff are the second most likely to pay ransom demands if business machines and data become inaccessible.
This could be because nine per cent of UK organisations hit by ransomware admitted that their entire end point estate was infected, leaving them effectively unable to operate.
Despite all this, the UK had the lowest levels of ransomware training for staff.
Marcin Kleczynski, chief executive of Malwarebytes, explained that the data underlined just how bad the ransomware epidemic is becoming,
“Cyber criminals are increasing their use of ransomware in their attack strategies globally, causing business disruption, loss of files and wasted IT man hours,” he said.
The Malwarebytes findings come just a week after Europol, with help from Kaspersky and Intel Security, announced the start of a fightback against ransomware with an online portal designed to flag up the risks.
It even includes thousands of decryption keys to help victims of ransomware unlock their machines without having to pay up.
Research in 2015 by V3's sister site Computing in conjunction with Intel provided some indications of a rise in ransomware, and showed that 55 per cent of organisations had put the necessary security measures in place.
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