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The True Cost Of Ransomware Attacks, And The Systems They Target

Ransomware is big business according to the latest study from Datto.

Major attacks have been garnering headlines around the globe in the last few years. Most notably, WannaCry and NotPetya. But now we’re beginning to learn just how much these attacks are costing average business owners.

The second annual State of the Channel Ransomware Report revealed that businesses paid $301 million to ransomware hackers last year. The study surveyed more than 1,700 MSPs who work with more than 100,000 small-to-mid-sized businesses (SMBs) around the world. Ninety-nine percent of those MSPs predicted attacks will increase over the next two years.

About five percent of all SMBs were victims of ransomware over the past year, the study’s authors assert. Interestingly, most of the financial strain came from downtime and data loss, rather than the actual ransom.

Ransomware Research Findings, Trends

While a growing number ransomware attacks are being reported to authorities, the majority of incidents are not, the study found. Less than one in three attacks were reported in 2016-2017, but that was an improvement from less than one in four in the previous period. Of the SMBs that are attacked, only 35 percent of MSPs reported that small businesses paid the ransom. The irony: 15 percent of those payers did not recover their data.

The study also showed that CryptoLocker remains the most popular strain of attacks, but new strains like the highly publicized WannaCry and NotPetya are having a greater impact.

No industry, operating system or device is immune to the threat, but the areas targeted most include construction, manufacturing, healthcare, professional services, and finance.

Ransomware Still Targeting Windows

That said, a separate Carbon Black study released this week showed that 99 percent of ransomware attacks targeted Microsoft products while Mac users remained largely unaffected. A large part of the reason for that is simply Microsoft’s massive PC marketshare. Many of the ransomware attacks studied used tools like Microsoft’s PowerShell to trick antivirus software.

What becomes apparent in the later study, though, is that hackers are erring on the side of simplicity in the hope of making a quick dollar. According to Carbon Black, most attacks use unsophisticated malware combined with sophisticated delivery methods in an attempt to catch as many victims as possible.

What’s clear from both studies is that an effective backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan is essential. Datto showed that with a solution in place, 96 percent of MSPs reported their clients fully recover from ransomware attacks.

Carbon Black points out that organizations shouldn’t get too distracted by the major ransomware attacks taking up the headlines. Instead, they should focus on implementing and maintaining their standard security and patch management methods in order to stay protected.

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