Companies say no to ransom demands

New research highlights a growing reluctance for companies to pay ransomware demands according to three quarters of respondents to a Menlo Security (www.menlosecurity.com) poll.
 
In the poll, only a fifth (20%) of respondents believe that they should pay the demands, whilst nearly 70% of respondents think that tougher penalties should be given to criminals who steal company data and extort organisations, with more than two thirds demanding prison sentences.  Just 7% of respondents believe that a large fine or community work would be an adequate penalty; however,16% admit that the attackers will probably never be caught.
 
What’s clear is that ransomware is a significantly growing cost to business.  Recent data from Cybersecurity Ventures (
www.cybersecurityventures.com) shows that in 2021, global losses from ransomware attacks is expected to exceed $20 billion, and by 2031 that figure may be as much as $265 billion.  This follows recent high-profile attacks that led to Colonial Pipeline in the U.S. paying over $4 million in Bitcoin to cyber criminals and Travelex paying $2.3 million to regain control after hackers shut down its financial transaction networks.  

As the number of ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure organizations including transportation, healthcare and energy increase, responsibility for their protection should fall firmly at the feet of the government, say 55% of poll respondents.  Nearly a quarter (23%) point to organizations to be more accountable, while 12% believe it rests with the cybersecurity industry as a whole.
 
“Ransomware isn’t going away any time soon and with the rise of ransomware as a service it’s an increasingly easy way for cyber criminals to launch a profitable attack.  It’s time for governments, organizations and individuals to take a stand.  If companies continue to pay ransom demands, then these criminal groups will continue to see the technique as an easy way to make massive monetary gains,” says  Mike East, Vice President EMEA, Menlo Security.

“To combat this increasingly complex cyber-attack vector, a new approach is clearly needed.  It’s time to discard the outdated approach of detect and remediate and rethink how you protect users, applications, data and the business from these attacks from the outset.  A proactive, isolation-powered approach to eliminating malware from reaching end users in the first place is a critical component to solving the ransomware problem, minimizing the impact on the business, without disrupting the way people work.”

Last year, ransomware attacks increased by more than 130% according to The Beazley Group.  While small-to-midsize businesses were at the largest risk, ransom demands regularly hit seven or even eight-figures.  The highest ransom a company paid out for its clients in 2018 was over $930,000.  The White House, The UK Home Office, law enforcement agencies and cybersecurity experts have all advised against paying ransom demands because it signals to ransomware gangs that their extortion schemes are working.