Sophos, a global leader in next-generation cybersecurity, announced the findings of its global survey, “The State of Ransomware 2021,” which reveals that 59% of Malaysian organisations not hit by ransomware last year expect to be hit in the future.
Furthermore, 59% of these respondents say it is because ransomware attacks are increasingly hard to stop due to their sophistication; 58% of them say ransomware is already so prevalent it is inevitable they will get hit; and 41% of them say they’re already experiencing an increase in attempted ransomware attacks against them.
The portion of Malaysian organisations that experienced ransomware halved from around 60% respondents surveyed in 2020 to 30% in 2021, and fewer organisations suffered data encryption as the result of a significant attack (49% in 2021 compared to 81% in 2020).
In other good news, the cost of recovery from a ransomware attack also decreased in Malaysia from US$1.06 million in 2020 to US$744,00 in 2021. This is in stark contrast to the global average which saw the average total cost of recovery from a ransomware attack more than double in a year, increasing from US$761,106 in 2020 to US$1.85 million in 2021.
Other findings of the State of Ransomware 2021 global survey include:
The global average ransom paid was $170,404. While US$3.2 million was the highest payment out of those surveyed, the most common payment was US$10,000. Ten organisations paid ransoms of US$1 million or more.l
The number of organisations globally that paid the ransom increased from 26% in 2020 to 32% in 2021, although fewer than one in 10 (8%) managed to get back all of their data.
“The findings confirm the brutal truth that when it comes to ransomware, it doesn’t pay to pay. Despite more organisations opting to pay a ransom, only a tiny minority of those who paid got back all their data,” said Chester Wisniewski, principal research scientist, Sophos. “This could be in part because using decryption keys to recover information can be complicated. What’s more, there’s no guarantee of success. For instance, as we saw recently with DearCry and Black Kingdom ransomware, attacks launched with low quality or hastily compiled code and techniques can make data recovery difficult, if not impossible.”
65% of respondents from Malaysia believe cyberattacks are now too advanced for their IT team to handle on their own compared to the global average of 54% who thought the same.
Extortion without encryption is on the rise. Globally the survey revealed a small, but important increase in extortion without encryption (from 3% to 7%).
“Recovering from a ransomware attack can take years and is about so much more than just decrypting and restoring data,” said Wisniewski. “Whole systems need to be rebuilt from the ground up and then there is the operational downtime and customer impact to consider, and much more. Further, the definition of what constitutes a ‘ransomware’ attack is evolving. For a small, but significant minority of respondents, the attacks involved payment demands without data encryption. This could be because they had anti-ransomware technologies in place to block the encryption stage or because the attackers simply chose not to encrypt the data. It is likely that the attackers were demanding payment in return for not leaking stolen information online. A recent example of this approach involved the Clop ransomware gang and a known financially motivated threat actor hitting around a dozen alleged victims with extortion-only attacks.
“In short, it is more important than ever to protect against adversaries at the door, before they get a chance to take hold and unfold their increasingly multi-faceted attacks. Fortunately, if organisations are attacked, they don’t have to face this challenge alone. Support is available 24/7 in the form of external security operations centres, human-led threat hunting and incident response services.”
Sophos recommends the following six best practices to help defend against ransomware and related cyberattacks:
Assume you will be hit. Ransomware remains highly prevalent. No sector, country or organisation size is immune from the risk. It’s better to be prepared, but not hit, rather than the other way round
Make backups and keep a copy offline. Backups are the main method organisations surveyed used to recover their data after an attack. Opt for the industry-standard approach of 3:2:1 (three sets of backups, using two different media, one of which is kept offline)
Deploy layered protection. As more ransomware attacks also involve extortion, it is more important than ever to keep adversaries out in the first place. Use layered protection to block attackers at as many points as possible across an estate.
Combine human experts and anti-ransomware technology. The key to stopping ransomware is defence in depth that combines dedicated anti-ransomware technology and human-led threat hunting. Technology provides the scale and automation an organisation needs, while human experts are best able to detect the tell-tale tactics, techniques and procedures that indicate an attacker is attempting to get into the environment. If you don’t have the skills in house, look at enlisting the support of a specialist cybersecurity company – Security Operation Centers (SOCs) are now realistic options for organisations of all sizes.
Don’t pay the ransom. Easy to say, but far less easy to do when an organisation has ground to a halt due to a ransomware attack. Independent of any ethical considerations, paying the ransom is an ineffective way to get data back. If you do decide to pay, bear in mind that the adversaries will restore, on average, only two-thirds of your files.
Have a malware recovery plan. The best way to stop a cyberattack from turning into a full breach is to prepare in advance. Organisations that fall victim to an attack often realize they could have avoided significant financial loss and disruption, if they had an incident response plan in place