70% OF INFECTED BUSINESSES have paid ransom
FBI has estimated that cyber-criminals have extorted $209 million in the first three months of 2016 through ransomware, making it one of the major cyber-security threats of the year. At this rate, FBI estimates that cyber-criminals can make up to $1 billion during the whole of 2016. Ransomware is a malware that encrypts data and the cyber-criminal holds this encrypted data for ransom till the payment of the demanded ransom.
IBM X-Force research has released a report titled “Ransomware: How Consumers and Businesses Value Their Data,” which is based on a study that surveyed 600 leaders from businesses and about 1,000 consumers in the US. The study was carried out to determine the value that is placed by businesses and consumers on different types of data.
The IBM X-factor study has found that nearly 40% of spam e-mails were infected with ransomware during 2016.
Nearly 70% of the infected business have made ransom payments to regain access to encrypted data and systems. About half of the businesses which paid the ransom, made a payment of over $10,000, while 20% paid over $40,000.
In the future, about 60% business executives said they would pay ransom for recovering data, especially financial records, intellectual property, customer records and business plans. Of the executives willing to pay, about 25% were willing to pay a ransom of $20,000 to $50,000, depending on the type of data to be recovered.
Small and medium-sized businesses are slowly becoming major targets for ransomware as they are not properly trained in the best practices of IT security. So, though they cannot make big payments, they are vulnerable and easy targets. In the study, only 29% of small businesses surveyed had been infected, compared to 57% of medium-sized businesses. The study also found that while 58% of large businesses had trained their employees in IT security, only about 30% of the small businesses surveyed had provided such training to their IT employees.
The study found that less than 50% consumers were willing to pay ransom for regaining access to their personal data, financial data and devices. But, about 54% consumers were willing to pay ransom to regain access to financial data, as such kind of data is more important and valuable to them. About 43% were ready to pay ransom to regain access to their mobile devices.
While ransomware usually demands at least $500, 37% of the consumers were willing to pay over $100 to regain access.
The study also found that parents were better targets with 39% parents surveyed saying that they had been targeted in the past, compared to only 29% non-parents.
About 71% of the parents surveyed were more concerned about being threatened for family photos and videos, and about 55% were ready to pay ransom to regain access. But only 54% of non-parents were concerned about family phots and videos and only 39% were willing to pay ransom to regain access.
Apart from photos and videos, 40% of the parents surveyed were concerned about losing access to gaming devices, compared to 27% non-parents.
“While consumers and businesses have different experiences with ransomware, cyber-criminals have no boundaries when it comes to their targets,” says Limor Kessem, Executive Security Advisor, IBM Security and the author of the IBM X-factor report. “The digitization of memories, financial information and trade secrets, require a renewed vigilance to protect it from extortion schemes like ransomware. Cyber-criminals are taking advantage of our reliance on devices and digital data creating pressure points that test our willingness to lose precious memories or financial security.”
Defense against ransomware
With ransomware getting more and more lucrative, the study predicts that these attacks would be on the rise in the future. To safeguard their valuable data, the IBM report suggests that businesses and consumers should take the following precautions:
1. Be vigilant while reading emails, especially while clicking links and opening attachments.
2. Back up data regularly and as a routine. Also, ensure that the back-ups are properly secured and cannot be easily mapped or connected to a network. The back-up should also be regularly tested to verify and ensure their usability and integrity.
3. By default, disable macros in documents and emails, as they are common carriers for ransomware.
4. Update frequently used software, including operating systems and apps, for all devices. Delete apps that are rarely accessed.
5. A victim of ransomware is advised by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to avoid paying the ransom. They recommend that victims should report the crime as follows:
US – victims can report through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3): https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
Europe – victims can report through Europol’s Cybercrime Reporting website: https://www.europol.europa.eu/report-a-crime/report-cybercrime-online
Resilient, which is an IBM Company, announced the release of Dynamic Playbook, a first-of-its-kind. Resilient’s Dynamic Playbooks help organizations in responding to ransomware and other kinds of complex attacks by orchestrating the responses of organization in real-time.
Comments are closed.