If you think that only big businesses are at risk of ransomware attacks, think again. Small- and mid-size businesses (SMBs) paid ransomware hackers more than US$301 million last year. While high-profile hacker attacks like the one at Equifax might get all the media attention, the reality is that it’s actually much more effective – and lucrative – for hackers to prey on SMBs, many of whom do not have any ransomware protection.
That’s the big takeaway from a major new report from Connecticut-based Datto, a business continuity service provider that recently surveyed more than 1,700 managed services providers (MSPs) who worked with more than 100,000 SMBs around the world to get a current look at how ransomware is impacting businesses. The report, State of the Channel Ransomware Report, found that 99 percent of the MSPs surveyed predicted an uptick in ransomware attacks in 2017 and into 2018.
In case you have not heard, ransomware is a malware attack which prevents access to your data by infecting your systems and encrypting your files. The attacker thus holds your data in ransom until a sum of money is paid.
Lack of ransomware protection puts SMBs at risk
The problem, quite simply, is that small businesses are not prepared for ransomware attacks like the WannaCry virus, and have not put in place the appropriate ransomware protection to harden their security defenses. As Robert Gibbons, CTO of Datto, points out, “SMBs often don’t have dedicated cybersecurity resources in place to begin with and their overall knowledge of cybersecurity is not often as sophisticated compared to larger organizations.”
Add in the fact that attackers often adopt a “spray and pray” strategy, in which they hit hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses at one time, and you have all the right conditions for a growing ransomware epidemic among SMBs. According to Datto’s estimates, nearly 1 in 20 of all SMBs worldwide have already grappled with the problem of ransomware.
To give you an idea of just how widespread these attacks are – and how crippling they can be for SMBs unprepared for this threat – 1 in 3 MSPs surveyed by Datto report that the ransomware encrypted the SMB’s backup. This means that the SMB is not able to recover from the attack by restoring the backup and discarding the ransomed files. Thus, what should have been a second line of defense – the backup – is no longer an option. Unless the backup is properly secured and preferably in a “remote” location like the Datto Cloud.
According to Datto, it’s not just the loss of data that poses a problem for unprotected businesses – it’s also all the downtime for a business as it attempts to piece together any data that might have been compromised. “The impact of downtime affects SMBs far more than the cost of ransom requests. Seventy-five percent of MSPs reported having clients who experienced business-threatening downtime as a result of a ransomware attack,” says Gibbons.