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Ransomware findings

Malwarebytes, a malware prevention product company, has reported on the growing threat to companies from ransomware. A multi-country study surveyed 540 CIOs, CISOs and IT directors from companies with an average of 5400 staff across the US, Canada, UK and Germany. It 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. The report, entitled “State of Ransomware,” was sponsored by Malwarebytes and by Osterman Research.

Nathan Scott, Technical Project Manager at Malwarebytes, said: “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. Until now, very few studies have examined the current prevalence and ramifications of actual ransomware incidents in the enterprise.”

UK findings include:

Highest number of attacks overall: Senior UK IT staff (54 percent) suffered the highest number of ransomware attacks despite seemingly being confident in their ability to stop it (87.2 percent).

UK CIOs, CISOs and IT directors keenest to pay the ransom: Over half of UK CISOs (58.2 percent) paid the ransom, the second highest percentage of the international research base and 21x higher than their US counterparts.

UK companies lose the most money to ransomware: The UK had the highest amount of revenue loss worldwide, with 60 percent saying the attack cost the company financially, nearly 10x more than US counterparts.

Senior UK IT staff unsure of the attack’s point of entry: Lowest per cent globally in terms of awareness of which device the ransomware entered the organization through, nearly a quarter (22 percent) had no idea.

Damage in UK businesses is crippling: the UK had the highest percentage of ransomware encrypting every single device on the corporate network, with 9 percent 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.

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, and 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 nine 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: 3.5 percent even said lives were at stake because of ransomware’s debilitating effects.

Severe downtime: 63 percent 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).

Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of Malwarebytes, said: “The results from this survey further emphasize that any business in any region is incredibly vulnerable to ransomware. Cybercriminals are increasing their use of ransomware in their attack strategies globally, causing business disruption, loss of files and wasted IT man-hours. In order to stay safe, businesses must invest heavily in both employee education and technology. We are thrilled to be able to give companies a solution that can thoroughly protect them against known and unknown ransomware threats.”

About Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is the company’s flagship product, with a heuristic detection engine that removed more than five billion malicious threats from computers the firm says. Founded in 2008, the company is headquartered in California with offices in Europe. Visit


Richard Walters, SVP Security Products, Intermedia, said: “Ransomware is evolving at dangerously fast speeds and is now recognised as a very real threat to organisations of all sizes. The emerging malware is no longer infiltrating one computer at a time; it’s threatening to take entire businesses offline for extended periods of time. Now more than ever, companies need to prepare for a ransomware attack by implementing fully-baked business continuity plans that incorporate off-site, real–time cloud backups. This ensures file archives can’t be deleted and employees can access clean versions of the files on another device.”


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