Ransomware attacks force 18% of SMEs to halt business

Ransomware attacks that cripple computer systems often leave organisations having to update records by pen and paper. But according to Malwarebytes, they are the lucky ones. The Second Annual State of Ransomware Report found that 18% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK had to halt business altogether when a ransomware attack hit.

One in six organisations reported losing revenue, and 1% said ransomware endangered lives.

Preventing attacks is a high priority

The majority of respondents (71%) said that preventing attacks was a high priority, with 68% citing investments in resources, technology and funding. Despite this, only 44% of respondents said they were confident that their organisation could address a ransomware attack.

In a press release, Malwarebytes CEO Marcin Kleczynski said: “Businesses of all sizes are increasingly at risk for ransomware attacks. However, the stakes of a single attack for a small business are far different from the stakes of a single attack for a large enterprise.

“[These] findings demonstrate that [SMEs] are suffering in the wake of attacks […] To be effective, the security community must thoroughly understand the battles that these companies are facing, so we can better protect them.”

The human factor

Speaking to CNET, Malwarebytes Senior Systems Engineer Brett Callaughan said that organisations’ vulnerability to ransomware often comes down to poor human behaviour rather than poor security software.

“A lot more attackers are becoming aware of the fact that they can make small amounts of money at a grand scale very quickly if they completely automate this,” he said. “The attackers we’re seeing are extremely sophisticated – they’re not fussed about creating a file and making something look real.

“They’ll just go after the user and they’ll spray and pray. If you hit 100,000 email accounts and 10,000 hit the button and you’re charging $200 a piece? That’s a significant amount of income right there from doing very little.”

The good news is that 72% of organisations believe that ransomware demands should never be paid. We always recommend refusing to pay ransoms, because there is no guarantee that the criminals will return your systems to normal, and even if you are able to recover your data, you will be a target for repeated attacks.

To educate your staff on the dangers of phishing, you should enrol them on our Phishing and Ransomware – Human patch e-learning course. This ten-minute course is designed to raise awareness of phishing and ransomware among employees, particularly those in critical service sectors such as healthcare, education and finance.

It describes the link between phishing attacks and ransomware, outlines the consequences of a successful attack and helps staff identify how to avoid falling victim.

Find out more about our Phishing and Ransomware – Human Patch e-learning course >>