Ransomware: a malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. New research reveals that the effects of Ransomware attacks on UK businesses cause unquantifiable financial cost and immeasurable data loss.According to research from Timico , an end-to-end, managed cloud service provider in partnership with Datto there is an alarming lack of awareness concerning companies being prepared for Ransoware attacks, with 84 per cent of small to mid-sized UK businesses having no official Ransomware policy, to guide employees on what to do in the event of an attack.
Ransomware is the biggest global cyber threat to business with reported incidents increasing infrequency and complexity and the financial demands escalating. The National Cyber Security Centre weekly threat report predicts that new innovations in Ransomware are already happening, such as targeting internet-connected devices to create a “Ransomware of Things.”
60 seconds or less to shutdown
The research report entitled ‘The Reality of Ransomware,’ polled 1,000 UK organisations (500 of whom were SMEs). All those polled have been a victim of Ransomware and many had been attacked within the last 12 months.
The research found that well over half (74 per cent) of SMEs said that the effects of an attack were almost instant with data systems going from fully functional to essentially useless within seconds and minutes.
Over a quarter (26 per cent) of SMEs reported lockdown within just a few seconds, and 21 per cent said that systems were down within a minute of the attack. A further 27 per cent reported systems being blocked within a few minutes.
The drastic effect on business
The Timico and Datto research found that, for the majority (91 per cent) of small to mid-sized firms that have been victim to Ransomware, systems were down for a week or more, causing £1,000s in financial damage a day to most businesses.
Close to half (45 per cent) had to endure their data down for more than a month, with close to 1 in 5 (18 per cent) reporting their data as ‘unrecoverable.’
But retrieving data is becoming increasingly more difficult for organisations. The ransom fees, demanded by cybercriminals before they will unlock the victim’s computer system, are rapidly rising.
Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of all respondents paid over £5,000 to retrieve their data and 26 per cent paid a fee of between £3,000 - £5,000. Higher Ransomware fees in large corporates were reported, with a third of corporates paying over £5,000 to recover data compare to just half that number of SMEs (15 per cent). The highest number of SMEs (35 ) paid between £500 and £1,500 ransom fee with nearly half (47 per cent) paying between £1,500 and £5,000 in fees. 15 per cent of SMEs paid over £5,000.
The true cost of Ransomware is a financial abyss
Knowing the extent of the cost of the attack on the business is often unknown.
Nearly a third of small to mid-sized firms (26 per cent) could not even estimate the overall financial cost to the business of the Ransomware attack, deeming it ‘unquantifiable’. Over half (51 per cent) of respondents estimated that the attack had cost the business between £1,000 to £2,000 per day in lost revenue, due to its data systems being down.
Lack of guidance leaving organisations vulnerable to loss
Despite Ransomware being well reported as one of the biggest, evolving threats to organisations world-wide, many staff within UK companies, and in particular smaller firms, would have no idea what to do in the event of an attack.
Timico and Datto found that a staggering 83 per cent of UK SMEs have no official Ransomware policy in place to guide staff on what to do when an attack occurs, leaving them vulnerable to huge and unquantifiable financial and data loss. This is compared to 41 per cent of large corporations.
Nabeil Samara, Chief Digital Officer at Timico says. “These research findings clearly show that the speed of a ransomware attack is almost instant, while the effects on the organisation can be far reaching.
“It’s not just a case of the data loss and financial cost to the business. A ransomware attack can have a debilitating effect, with long-term consequences across the business, with the company even breaching terms of any regulatory bodies that the business holds themselves accountable to.
“The Government has now launched its The Cyber Schools Programme but education needs to extend beyond the classroom and into the workplace. It’s critical that all organisations, no matter what size, acknowledge the increasing and evolving threat of Ransomware as attacks become ever more frequent and instil a policy, that is regularly updated, to educate staff on what to do if the business comes under attack. Protection and communication are key to the difference between success or failure and will save the business infinite costs in the long run.”
Andrew Stuart, Managing Director, Datto EMEA, says, “The high quantity of strains and constant evolution mean traditional signature-based anti-virus aren't effective against this threat. A Backup and Disaster Recovery solution which utilises the Cloud can effectively defend against ransomware. This creates regular encrypted backups of your data, and maintains prior versions. In the case of a ransomware attack, businesses can easily 'roll back' their data to an uninfected version, so no ransom needs to be paid. And of course, this second copy has the added benefit of preventing data loss via accidental deletion.’'
TIMICO’S TOP TIPS TO PREPARING FOR (AND PREVENTING) A RANSOMWARE ATTACK
Get senior stakeholder buy in, so all company Ransomware prevention and response policies are communicated and enforced from the top.
Be proactive with your backup policy, and above all test on a regular basis.
Educate your users not to open or click on suspicious looking emails or attachments.
Up to date antivirus software should be considered essential.
Don’t get complacent – audit your historic backups, imperative if you have a multi-vendor solution in place.
Understand your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) i.e. how long can you afford to be down for?
Understand your Recovery Point Objective (RPO) i.e. how much data can you afford to lose?
Encourage your users to keep their work and personal data and apps separate.
Don’t pay the ransom! It’s still highly unlikely you will get your data back, or if you do it will be in unreadable format.
Do report the crime to the police, many don’t and as such attacks go under the radar…don’t let cyber criminals get away with it!