Study Claims Nearly Half of US Businesses Affected with Ransomware This Year

Posted on August 05, 2016 by .

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If you are at all tuned into the computer security world, you know that the threat of ransomware is an epidemic that appears to have become unruly and widespread in the recent year or two. According to an Osterman Research 2016 State of Ransomware Study sponsored by MalwareBytes, nearly half of corporate entities in the US have become the victim of a ransomware attack in some form.

Ransomware has claimed a new face in the past couple of years, one that is relentless in its repeal when it comes to remedying the issues faced with threats that encrypt files on an infected computer. Recent ransomware attacks are from a form encrypting malware that holds a victimized computer for ransom while demanding a substantial fee to decrypt files. What’s even more discerning, is that the malware coffers have been opened wide releasing the wrath of ransomware on as many as 80% of business in the past twelve months.

The recent State of Ransomware Study 2016 outlines staggering statistics about ransomware. Not only does the report follow the premise of our findings in recent reports we have revealed about ransomware setting records throughout this year alone, but the new threat of ransomware has made defeating it without affected business a new high priority that sets precedence over many other operations. After all, a notable ransomware attack has been known to cost businesses and other entities money and time loss that hurts their bottom line in the short term and long term.

Among the types of companies currently affected, those in the healthcare sector are suffering the most, having an effective rate of about 18% according to the 2016 State of Ransomware Study’s survey findings. Following healthcare is manufacturing, having a 14% rate of infection leaving financial services/banking/insurance-type businesses following with a 13% rate, and High-tech industries with 10%. After that, Education and Government entities both have 8%. As shown in figure 1 Below, the study breaks down each sector to make up the full scope of what specific types of organizations are affected by ransomware attacks.

Figure 1. Company type ransomware infection rates comparison chart. Source: Osterman Research and MalwareBytes

The many methods of coming under attack from ransomware include personal computers used at a company to massive networks comprised of hundreds to thousands of connected systems. The delivery method for ransomware continues to be spreading through spam email attachments, which commonly include a ZIP file that contains malicious JavaScript that automatically installs ransomware upon opening.

To gauge how ransomware affected corporations, those surveyed for the State of Ransomware Study results were not only located in the U.S., but the study included data gathered from companies in Canada, Germany, and the U.K.

The amounts paid as a transitory solution to ransomware and its demand is staggering. On average, 30% of the corporations hit with ransomware were demanded to pay $500 for each occurrence of an attack, as shown in figure 2 below. Moreover, about 12% of ransomware-attacked companies faced ransoms between $10,000 and $50,000, which most often resulted in the company paying the full amount to restore their operations.

Figure 2. Amounts Demanded by Ransomware Perpetrators – Source: Osterman Research

As ransomware perpetuates, we will start to see an abundance of both amateur and professional cybercrooks that spread the threats, which is primarily done through spam messages. The ransomware demands are all over the place as are the targets. Rest assured, vulnerable companies around the world are taking notice to ransomware like never before, and there is a good chance that most popular companies that you use for their services have been hit with ransomware in some way or another.

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