Ransomware attacks can range in severity from difficult to deal with, to crippling. In the next year, experts predict these attacks will cost businesses nearly $11 billion, a substantial increase from the $325 million reported back in 2015.
Unprepared users and businesses can quickly lose valuable data and money from these attacks. The easiest way to combat ransomware is to understand how ransomware works, who it targets, and other important information about this evolving strain of malware.
So let’s take a look at 15 facts, statistics and trends of ransomware so we can prepare ourselves and avoid unnecessary attacks in the future.
1. Ransomware is a Top 5 Threat
Ransomware continues to grow in popularity, prompting Verizon to name it a top-five threat. With new strains of ransomware constantly appearing, users need to understand how to recognize it and prevent it from infecting their systems.
For example, nearly 60% of ransomware attacks are delivered through email as embedded URLs.
2. Consumer Infection Rates are Declining
Consumer infection rates are on the decline, though, as the biggest ransomware targets are still small and medium-sized businesses. Ransomware works by encrypting important data and “selling” it back to its owner, so the average consumer’s files just aren’t valuable enough to bother with when compared to a larger business with more expendable cash flow.
3. Ransomware and Malware are Highly Correlated
In 1,379 incidents involving malware, ransomware accounted for 56% of them. Malware remains a common method to deploy ransomware to a target’s computer.
4. Ransomware is the 2nd Biggest Cybersecurity Threat in Retail
For retail businesses, ransomware is the second largest cybersecurity threat. Retail businesses often house large databases of their customers’ information, and thanks to data breach laws and the EU’s GDPR regulations, this is information that they cannot afford to lose.
5. Ransomware Continues to Grow Annually
While consumer ransomware is declining, overall ransomware infection rates are growing steadily, especially those that target larger businesses.
6. The Healthcare Industry is the Most Targeted
According to Barracuda, 47% of businesses have been affected by ransomware. Of these businesses, the healthcare industry is the most commonly attacked at 46%, while the financial and professional services industries follow at 12% each respectively.
The healthcare industry is a logical choice because of the sensitive information that they store. Loss of data in the healthcare industry is expensive and can result in large fines from government agencies. The disruption to patient care from a “locked” network can also lead to malpractice lawsuits.
7. New Variants Growing by 46% Annually
Ransomware is constantly evolving and new, more sophisticated strains are on the rise. Over the last year, the number of new variants increased by 46%.
8. Daily Ransomware Detection Rates are Flat Year-on-Year
Modern antivirus software is struggling to cope with the growth of ransomware. Daily detection rates remain flat year-on-year, showing that they are having trouble detecting new strains as they evolve.
9. U.S Companies are 2nd Most Affected by Petya Ransomware Strain
Companies in the United States are the second most-affected by the well-known Petya ransomware strain. Businesses in Ukraine took the top spot.
10. Ransomware is a Major Player in Crypto Industry
The cryptocurrency industry is still plagued by ransomware, likely due to the swift rise in crypto prices that occurred earlier in the year. As Bitcoin mining increases in difficulty, these types of attacks may continue to follow the trend.
11. Ransomware is Rarely Paid by Organizations in the U.S
Ninety-seven percent of United States’ organizations refused to pay the ransom in ransomware attacks. However, 75% of Canadian companies did pay, as did 22% of German businesses, and 58% of companies in the United Kingdom.
12. Average Ransom Ranges from $500 – $2,000 for SMBs
The average ransom payment for small and medium-sized businesses typically ranges from $500 to $2,000. While this amount may seem insignificant for larger businesses, it can be crippling for smaller businesses that cannot afford to lose their data.
There are also many cases where hackers still delete a company’s files after the ransom has been paid, meaning both the money and the files are gone.
13. Data Loss and Downtime are the Biggest Consequences of Ransomware
Most companies say they experience data loss and major downtime as the result of a ransomware attack. Both of these outcomes are extremely costly for a business, especially larger ones with hundreds of employees. Significant downtime can result in millions of dollars of lost revenue and decreased consumer trust.
14. Windows is Still the Most Targeted System
Ninety-nine percent of multiple service providers say Windows operating systems are targeted most frequently by ransomware attacks. However, this doesn’t mean that OS X, Linux, and Android are immune. Any operating system can fall victim to a ransomware attack.
15. SaaS Applications are Also Affected by Ransomware
Popular software as a service (SaaS) applications are being targeted by ransomware too. A study involving several multiple service providers found that Dropbox, Office 365, G Suite, Azure, and Amazon Web Services have experienced ransomware attacks in some form.
Ransomware isn’t going away any time soon.
Quite simply, it works, so individual users and businesses will continue to be targeted. URLs embedded in emails remains the number one way for computers to become infected.
Data loss is a serious concern that affects both individuals and companies. The best defense against ransomware is for users to learn what it is, how it infects a computer, and what to do once it happens.
Of course, the most effective tool against any type of malicious software is an up-to-date antivirus. Check out our antivirus software reviews to determine which one is most effective against ransomware while meeting your needs.
- VPN Mentor
- Osterman Research