US Businesses Quite Likely to Pay a Cyber-Ransom

How many businesses will pay a ransom if attacked? It might depend on if they have already been a victim of ransomware. Some 84% of US and UK information technology executives at firms that had not faced ransom attacks said they would never pay a ransom. But among firms that had been attacked, 43% paid, according to Radware’s 2016 Executive Application & Network Security Survey.

The study also found that US companies are far more willing to admit that they would pay a ransom. Among US firms who had not been attacked, 23% indicated they were prepared to pay a ransom, in contrast to the 9% in the UK.

Companies that paid ransoms reported an average of $7,500 in the US and £22,000 in the UK.

“This is a harbinger of the challenging decisions IT executives will face in the security arena,” said Carl Herberger, Radware’s vice president of security solutions. “It’s easy to say you won’t pay a ransom until your system is actually locked down and inaccessible. Organizations that take proactive security measures, however, reduce the chance that they’ll have to make that choice.”

Security risk is business risk: Whether motivated by ransomware or another factor, attacks impose significant reputational and operational costs on victims. When executives named the top two risks they face from cyberattacks, brand reputation loss led the pack, with 34% of respondents choosing that as a big fear. Operational loss (31%), revenue loss (30%), productivity loss (24%), and share price value (18%) were also included in the top concerns.

Cleaning up after a cyberattack can indeed be expensive: More than a third of respondents in the U.S. said an attack had cost them more than $1 million, and 5% said they spent more than $10 million. Costs in the U.K. were generally lower, with 63% saying an attack had cost less than £351,245 or about $500,000, though 6% claimed costs above £7 million.

In addition to the responses to ransom attacks, Radware’s 2016 Executive Application & Network Security Survey uncovered which security threats most weigh on the minds of the C-suite and senior executives. Notably, firms see telecommuting as security risk.

Work-from-home arrangements are seen as an increasing risk, so the survey found a big jump in changes to telecommuting policies, with 41% of respondents saying they have tightened work-from-home security policies in the last two years.

Also, many executives surveyed think the Internet of Things (IoT) could become a bona fide security problem. Some 29% said IoT devices were extremely likely to be top avenues for attacks, similar to the percentage of nods received for network infrastructure, which received 31%.

One subset of IoT is hot in pop culture right now: wearables. But while about one in three companies implemented security policies around wearables in the last two years, 41% said they still have no rules in place, leaving a growing number of end points potentially vulnerable. Perhaps this is because wearables aren’t seen as a major target—only 18% pointed to wearables when asked what hackers would most likely go after in the next three to five years.

In terms of protection and response, senior executives see former bad guys as the best way to test their systems. Some 59% of respondents said they either had hired ex-hackers to help with security or were willing to do so, with one respondent saying, “Nothing beats a poacher turned gamekeeper.”

Photo © Sangoiri

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