More than half of UK enterprises hit by ransomware attacks

A multi-country study that surveyed 540 CIOs, CISOs and IT Directors from companies with an average of 5,400 staff across the UK, US, Canada, and Germany and found that nearly 40 percent of businesses have experienced a ransomware attack in the last year. Of these victims, more than a third lost revenue and 20 percent had to stop business completely.

Risk of ransomware attacks

The report, entitled “State of Ransomware,” was sponsored by Malwarebytes and released at Black Hat USA 2016.

“Over the last four years, ransomware has evolved into one of the biggest cyber security threats in the wild, with instances of ransomware in exploit kits increasing 259 percent in the last five months alone. The impact on businesses around the world has been significant,” said Nathan Scott, Technical Project Manager at Malwarebytes and ransomware expert. “Until now, very few studies have examined the current prevalence and ramifications of actual ransomware incidents in the enterprise.”

The research painted a bleak picture for UK senior staff, with the country suffering the highest percentage (54%) of ransomware attacks out of all those asked.

Over half of UK CISOs (58.2%) paid the ransom, the second highest percentage of the international research base, and 21x higher than their US counterparts.

The UK also had the highest amount of revenue loss worldwide, with 60% saying the attack cost the company financially (nearly 10x more than US counterparts), and the highest percentage of ransomware encrypting every single device on the corporate network, with 9% of all organisations suffering total blackout through encryption. In the US and Germany, not a single person suffered from this problem.

Despite all this, UK IT managers are least likely to put any kind of ransomware training in place.

Additional international findings include:

  • Nature of attacks: 78 percent of all ransomware was known to come through an endpoint, and nearly half of attacks (46 percent) originated from email.
  • Cost of attacks: Nearly 60 percent of all ransomware attacks in the enterprise demanded over $1,000. Over 20 percent of attacks asked for more than $10,000, 1 percent even asked for over $150,000
  • Many are paying the ransom: Globally, more than 40 percent of victims paid the ransom demands.
  • Significant time spent on remediation: More than 60 percent of attacks took more than 9 hours to remediate.
  • Attacks frequent in certain industries: Healthcare and financial services were the leading industries attacked with ransomware globally, both of which were targeted well above the average ransomware penetration rate of 39 percent.
  • Potential loss of life: Amazingly, 3.5% even said lives were at stake because of ransomware’s debilitating effects
  • Severe downtime: 63% spent more than an entire business day trying to fix endpoints
  • Switch from protection to disaster planning: The most popular way of addressing the problem is not through protection, but by backing up data (over 71 percent).

Black Hat USA 2016