Ransomware is one of the most damaging types of cyber attacks of all time, and the one feared the most by business owners and cybersecurity defenders. This worry is not without reason. In an instant, an organization’s critical IT infrastructure can be brought down for weeks to months, completely stopping all business. Some data and systems may be lost forever. Complete recovery may take over a year. Customer impacts may last long past the technical recovery process.
The FBI is investigating about 100 different types of ransomware “gangs” (https://www.reuters.com/
technology/fbi-says-it-is-investigating-about-100-types-ransomware-wsj-2021-06-04/) and most are operating in foreign cybercriminal safe havens where the victim’s domestic law enforcement agencies cannot stop them. Despite defenders’ best efforts, the occurrence of ransomware continues to increase (https://blog.knowbe4.com/ransomware-attacks-in-2021-have-increased-nearly-three-fold-in-the-first-half-of-the-year).
The financial damage caused by ransomware is daunting. Ransomware was successful in exploiting up to 68% of surveyed organizations in one year alone, according to the 2021 Cyberthreat Defense Report (https://info.knowbe4.com/research-2021-cyberthreat-defense-report). Ransomware mitigation vendor Coveware says the average ransom paid in Q3 2021 was $139,739 USD (https://www.coveware.com/blog/2021/10/20/ransomware-attacks-continue-as-pressure-mounts).
Some organizations have paid tens of millions of dollars in ransomware extortion.
Overall, recovery costs are usually many times higher than the ransomware extortion payment. One cybersecurity vendor stated $18 billion was paid globally in ransom in 2020, and total costs were in the hundreds of billions of dollars (https://blog.emsisoft.com/en/38426/the-cost-ofransomware-in-2021-a-country-by-country-analysis/). Another cybersecurity analyst predicted total ransomware costs could hit $250 billion by 2031.