Organizations believe they are ready for ransomware attacks

Over the past year there has been a dramatic rise in ransomware attacks, and while all organizations are a target, large enterprises are bearing the brunt – experiencing an average of 10,000 attacks over the past two years. This is according to a Mimecast research report based on a global survey of 742 cybersecurity professionals.

preparedness ransomware attacks

Resource gaps

Cybersecurity leaders are facing challenges related to technology, people and processes. The shift to remote work brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in numerous new devices to protect, leaving organizations more vulnerable to ransomware through unsecure networks. The research found:

  • Respondents cited phishing emails with ransomware attachments (54%), web security (47%), and phishing emails leading to a drive-by download (45%) as primary sources of ransomware attacks.
  • Only 45% reported they have file backups that would allow them to avoid having to pay the ransom, or to mitigate damage from an attack.
  • 45% would like budget to fund more up-to-date data security systems.
  • 46% of executives want more frequent security awareness training for end-users.
  • 40% of respondents want greater sharing of threat data.

The difference between preparedness vs. confidence regarding ransomware attacks

The research has shown that ransomware attacks are widespread and prevalent: 80% of organizations have been targeted and experienced an average of 3,000 attacks over the past two years, or four per day. Yet, the research found that 77% of executives are confident in their company’s preparedness for ransomware attacks. The contradiction may be a result of:

  • 83% of executives believe they can get all their data back without paying the ransom.
  • Directly contradicts the fact that 39% of organizations paid the ransom.
  • 77% of executives believe they can bring their company back to a state of normalcy within two to five days.
  • 78% have received incremental budget to help address the ransomware problem.
  • 60% of organizations train their employees to recognize email threats that could lead to an attack.

“Ransomware attacks have never been more common, and threat actors are improving each day in terms of their sophistication and ease of deployment,” said Jonathan Miles, head of strategic intelligence & security research at Mimecast.

“Preparation is key in combating these attacks. It’s great to see cybersecurity leaders feel prepared, but they must continue to be proactive and work to improve processes. This report clearly shows ransomware attacks pay, which gives cybercriminals no incentive to slow down.”

Ransoms vary widely across the globe

Responding executives were evenly split when it comes to paying the ransom, 41% did not pay, while 39% did. Thirteen percent of organizations negotiated their payments down. The research found the average ransom to be:

  • Australia – AU$79,857 ($59,066 USD)
  • Canada – C$6,666,220 ($5,347,508 USD)
  • Germany – €171,203 ($197,727 USD)
  • South Africa – R3,261,352 ($213,884 USD)
  • United Kingdom – £628,606 ($848,377 USD)
  • United States – $6,312,190

Ransomware consequences reach C-suite executives

Successful ransomware attacks can have devastating consequences for organizations. In fact, companies that fell victim to a ransomware attack noted that they saw disruption to their operations (42%), faced significant downtime (36%), lost revenue (28%) and lost current customers (21%). The research found that these attacks are now also causing reverberations on an individual level:

  • 39% of executives feel they could lose their jobs over a successful ransomware attack.
  • 24% saw changes to their C-suite.
  • Two-thirds of executives would feel very or extremely responsible if a successful attack occurred.
  • When asked why they feel responsible, 60% said it’s their job to protect the company, and 48% said it would be because they underestimated the risk of a ransomware attack.



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