Ransomware is a highly-used type of cyber attack that, most of the time, has the power to halt a company’s operations completely. Phishing and Social Engineering are the most common tactics used by cybercriminals in Ransomware attacks.
A recent article by Emsisoft shared that the average ransom demand in a ransomware cybercrime was USD 84,000 in 2020 – which the author advised can be an underestimated value. Besides the ransom paying costs, the total price tag of a successful ransomware attack includes losses with downtime and business opportunities, and remediation costs. A report by Sophos estimates that the average global cost to remediate a Ransomware attack is US$761,106.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a form of malicious software (also known as malware) designed to encrypt data on a user’s device, making it inaccessible to them until they pay a ransom to the attacker. Ransomware can be downloaded in many different ways, such as clicking on suspicious links and installing illegitimate files.
Ransomware is designed to spread across an organization’s network and target databases or files that contain sensitive information. Once this occurs, the targeted organization would be completely frozen and powerless to do anything until they’ve paid off the ransom. This downtime is incredibly costly, possibly being 23x greater than the ransom requested.
Main consequences of a Ransomware Attack
- High Costs:
Ransomware attackers can charge amounts that are incredibly high for the companies. Some companies might not even be able to afford such an amount. Financial costs aren’t high just because of the ransom payment if you also consider the costs to remedy the damage done due to the ransom attack and the financial loss experienced due to this downtime. According to a report by Sophos, the average cost can reach $732,520 when the ransom is not paid and approximately $1,448,458 if the ransom is paid.
- Low Chances of Data Recovery:
Let’s say that a company’s data gets encrypted by Ransomware, and they’re being ransomed for USD 1 Million. They borrow money and obtain it however they can and pay the attacker. There’s no guarantee for the attacker to give them access to their data and could continue to extort the company.
- Brand Reputation Damage:
A company that experiences a Ransomware attack will be seen as one that can’t keep the data of its customers and clients safe. They will damage their brand reputation to the current customer and would also lose out on prospective customers as a result.
Examples of Ransomware Attacks Using Phishing
Since the first records of Ransomware attacks, phishing emails have been among the top entry points for attackers to attract victims. According to an article, phishing became the dominant attack vector for Ransomware in Q4 2020, overtaking remote desktop protocol (RDP) compromises. Here are examples of successful Ransomware attacks that started as phishing emails campaigns:
Educate your users about Ransomware attacks and take your cyber awareness strategy to the next level!