This blog is the first in a two-part series about Ransomware and how you may be able to protect your organization – big or small – against the same. Part one of this series will define ransomware and how it works. Part two of this series will provide tips on how you can protect your business against ransomware.
Ransomware attacks continue to grow in number and sophistication. If you are responsible for IT and security management in your organization, knowing how to protect your organization against ransomware is a must.
In 2019, 45 percent of all ransomware victims paid the ransom to retrieve their data and information. Today, as many as 58 percent of ransomware victims, from every industry, have paid ransom[1]. Ransomware attacks, where a virus infects a computer or network and holds a user or organization’s data “hostage” until a ransom is paid, cost businesses and organizations in Canada as much as $2.3 billion last year[2].
Governments and large corporations may get the most attention, but they aren’t the ones that suffer most. Consider these statistics:
– It’s estimated that ransomware costs small businesses $75 billion a year[3]
– The cost of downtime and data loss puts small and mid-size business at the biggest risk[4]
– The average Q4 2019 ransomware payment was $41,198[5]
– The average Q4 2019 downtime cost was $64,645[6]
– Average downtime has increased to 16.2 days[7]
– Bitcoin remains the preferred payment in 98% of attacks[8]

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a malicious program. It can infect a single computer or a network of computers, encrypting the data, making it inaccessible. Upon infection, the cybercriminals communicate their demands and, often, a ransom that must be paid in order to decrypt the data.
According to one survey, 98% of attackers provided an decryption tool upon payment[9]. Considering the costs, you want to avoid this situation entirely, which you can do with solid network and endpoint protection, employee training, and a well-defined disaster recovery plan.

Why do ransomware attacks continue to increase?

Quite simply, they work. Ransomware cybercriminals make a lot of money on these attacks. Most ransomware scripts are not amateur efforts. These are done by highly advanced international crime rings that are well-financed and run like a business.
The ransomware programmers, also called authors, have a huge incentive to invest in developing new and more advanced encryption algorithms. They also continue to evolve the delivery of these programs to ensnare companies and force them to pay the ransom.
So far, 2017 remains the worst year on record where cybercriminals made over $1 billion in profits on ransomware attacks[10]. Typical attackers demand what might be considered “reasonable” amounts of money – between $2,500 and $10,000 per infected device.
Attackers don’t seek to bankrupt their targets. They aim to infect as large a number as possible to get as many people as possible to pay. And as noted in the statistics at the beginning of the article, Bitcoin remains the preferred payment method, posing another costly and logistical challenge for organizations that suffer an attack.
Fortunately, you can protect your organization with a proactive approach to network and endpoint security. Read about how you can protect your business against ransomware in part two of this blog series.

[1] Info Security Magazine, 01 Apr 2020, Ransomware Payments on the Rise,
[2] CTV News, 14 Feb 2020, Ransomware costs Canadian companies as much as $2.3 billion,