Ransomware Attacks Drive 20% of Companies to Pay Ransom

Ransomware Attacks

This article was last updated on February 22, 2024

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Understanding the Merits of the Report

Ransomware attacks are indisputably one of the largest threats facing businesses today. According to recent statistics drawn from police and security companies, cybercriminals launched a whopping 147 successful ransomware attacks against significant Dutch organizations in the past year. The repercussion of these attacks was so severe that approximately 18% of these organizations ended up paying a ransom to recover access to their crucial data and systems. Up until recently, information regarding ransomware attacks was heavily guarded by law enforcement and security agencies, rendering statistics elusive. Current figures only account for reports from companies housing more than 100 employees. Willem Zeeman, a forensic expert at Fox-IT, believes the actual figures could be marginally higher given that not all companies open up about an attack, mainly due to fear of reputational damage.

The Dark World of Ransomware

Ransomware, a term coined from the combination of ‘ransom’ and ‘software’ is used by cybercriminals to breach the computer systems of companies or individuals. The ransomware encrypts files on a compromised system, effectively barring the user’s access until a ransom is paid, usually in cryptocurrency, which provides the attackers a high level of anonymity. Past assumptions suggested a high propensity for companies to capitulate to these criminal demands. In 2019, Coveware, a company specializing in ransomware, estimated that a ransom was paid in approximately 85% of all cases. However, according to Zeeman, this percentage has been on a steady decline in recent years, thanks to an increasing awareness of ransomware and robust recovery plans put in place by many companies. Notwithstanding, the actual ransom amount usually remains undisclosed.

The Vulnerability of Sole Proprietorships

Contrary to popular belief, smaller entities such as sole proprietorships often fall prey to these cyber-attacks, mostly due to their lack of adequate recovery plans. Figures from Statistics Netherlands reveal that nearly two-thirds of ransomware victims are self-employed individuals, who however, seldom capitulate to the demand for ransom.

Era of Lockbit Hackers

A host of Dutch organizations, including Maastricht University, VDL Group, RTL Nederland, and KNVB, have been targeted for ransomware attacks in recent years. In most instances, these attacks led to the payment of ransoms. The notorious hacking gang, Lockbit, which was behind the KNVB hostage crisis, was largely dismantled this week. Security services and police departments across various countries put together an operation that mimicked the techniques of the hacker group, leading to the takeover of their platform and seizure of their data. Even though it was hailed as a smart detective achievement, only two arrests have been made so far, and it is not uncommon for such ransomware to resurface in a new avatar.

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