Report: Caving to ransomware demands doubles the cost to companies


Cybersecurity has never been more serious an issue for brands, with companies regularly having their data seized and held for ransom by online thieves. Yet despite the temptation for a quick and easy solution, a new report has found that the total cost of recovery almost doubles when organisations cough up the ransom.

“The State of Ransomware 2020” report – by cybersecurity expert Sophos – enlisted Vanson Bourne to poll 5,000 IT decision-makers in 26 countries across Asia-Pacific, central Asia, Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, and Africa.

The findings were that the average global cost of addressing the impact of a ransomware attack, not including the ransom itself – such as business downtime, lost orders, operational costs, and more – was US$730,000. But that average cost almost doubled to US$1.4 million when organisations caved to paying the ransom.

More than half (52%) of the polled organisations in APAC had experienced a ransomware attack in the previous 12 months. Data was encrypted in 81% of attacks that successfully breached these organisations. Out of those hit by ransomware in APAC, nearly half (40%) admitted paying the ransom.

“Organisations may feel intense pressure to pay the ransom to avoid damaging downtime. On the face of it, paying the ransom appears to be an effective way of getting data restored, but this is illusory. Sophos’ findings show that paying the ransom makes little difference to the recovery burden in terms of time and cost. This could be because it is unlikely that a single magical decryption key is all that’s needed to recover. Often, the attackers may share several keys and using them to restore data may be a complex and time-consuming affair,” said Chester Wisniewski, principal research scientist, Sophos.

The public sector was least affected by ransomware globally, with just 45% of the organisations surveyed in this category saying they were hit by a significant attack in the previous year. At a global level, media, leisure and entertainment businesses in the private sector were most affected by ransomware, with 60% of respondents reporting attacks.

In APAC, less than half (45%) of the IT managers surveyed were able to recover their data from backups without paying the ransom. In a very small minority of cases (1%), paying the ransom did not lead to the recovery of data.

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