Ransomware. At one point just a buzzword, ransomware is now an all-too-real threat to businesses, governments, and individuals worldwide. The problem with ransomware is twofold.

First, ransomware is designed to completely encrypt a victim’s file system, potentially causing an irreversible loss of data. Second, an increasing number of cyber-criminals are utilizing ransomware to extract money out of victims. Some surveys have shown that businesses are willing to shell out upwards of $50,000 towards ransomware losses just to decrypt their data.

What is Ransomware

The threat is only growing, as numerous surveys and research studies have shown. According to Dimension Data, ransomware attacks worldwide rose 350 percent in 2017 over the previous year.

All of this is proof positive that ransomware continues to be an extremely lucrative venture for cyber-criminals, with the average attack from all sources (businesses, governments, and individuals) yielding an average $1,077 for criminals.

Ransomware Protection

To get a better idea of what the ransomware landscape looks like, we’ve gathered some of the most interesting facts and statistics from 2016 to present that highlight this ongoing security concern.

  • According to Cybersecurity Ventures, ransomware damages reached $5 billion in 2017. (Source: Cybersecurity Ventures)
  • In February 2016, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid a ransom of 40 Bitcoins ($17,000 at the time) after they were hit by a ransomware attack that knocked the hospital’s network offline. (Source: LA Times)
  • In March 2016 MedStar Health was hit with ransomware and asked to pay 45 Bitcoins ($19,000 at the time) but reportedly the health company was able to bring their systems online without paying the ransom. (Source:Trend Micro)

Ransomware Bitcoin Statistic 2016

  • In May 2016 the University of Calgary paid $20,000 CDN ($16,129 USD) after ransomware crippled multiple systems. (Source: University of Calgary)
  • According to FBI statistics, hackers extorted businesses and institutions for more than $209 million in ransomware payments in the first three months of 2016. (Source: Malwarebytes)
  • 70 percent of businesses paid to get their data back in 2016. (Source: IBM)
  • Ransomware is costing businesses more than $75 billion per year. (Source: Datto)
  • Datto also reports that businesses paid $301 million in ransomware payments in 2016. (Source: Datto)
  • Businesses lost around $8,500 per hour due to ransomware-induced downtime. (SourceDatto)
  • Business ransomware demands averaged between $500 – $2,000 dollars. (Source: Datto)
  • A tenth of all businesses reporting stated their ransom demand was $5,000 or more. (Source: Datto)
  • Nearly 40 percent of ransomware victims paid the ransom. (Source: Malwarebytes)
  • Over half of all survey respondents (55 percent) said they’d be willing to pay the ransom to regain access to digital family photos. Thirty-nine percent of respondents without children said the same. (Source: IBM)
  • An IBM study noted that a quarter of business executives would be willing to pay between $20,000 and $50,000 to regain access to encrypted data. (Source: IBM)
  • A 2017 Google study found ransomware earned its creators more than $25 million between 2015 and 2016. (SourceBusiness Insider)
  • FedEx attributed a $300 million loss in its Q1 2017 earnings report to the NotPetya ransomware attack. The company reportedly did not have cybersecurity insurance. (Source: Reuters)
  • NotPeyta’s losses could exceed $1 billion. (Source: eWeek)
  • After getting hit by the SamSam ransomware in March 2018, Atlanta, Georgia, has spent more than $5 million rebuilding its computer network, including spending nearly $3 million hiring emergency consultants and crisis managers. (Source: Statescoop)
  • A Massachusetts school district paid $10,000 in Bitcoin after a ransomware attack in April 2018. (SourceCyberscoop)
  • The average ransomware demand in 2017 was half of what it was in 2016, changing from over $1,000 on average to $522. This marks a potential new focus on more high-value targets by cyber-criminals. (SourceSymantec)
  • According to Cryptonite, healthcare organizations saw an 89 percent year-over-year increase in ransomware attacks. (Source: Cryptonite)
  • By the end of 2016, ransomware delivered via phishing emails had grown by over 97 percent. (SourcePhishMe)
  • There was a 300 percent year-over-year increase in ransomware attacks between 2015 and 2016, from 1,000 attacks per day to 4,000. (Source: U.S. Justice Department)
  • A 2015/2016 campuscomputing.net survey found that a quarter of campuses experienced spyware or ransomware attacks in the past year. (SourceCampus Computing)
  • An IBM Security survey found that only 29 percent of small businesses had experience with ransomware, making these businesses more likely to be unprepared for the threat. (SourceIBM)
  • Over 70 percent of parents were most concerned about losing digital family photos or videos. (SourceIBM)
  • A Datto survey of 1,100 IT professionals revealed that over 90 percent had clients that suffered ransomware attacks in the past year. Forty percent had clients that were subject to at least six ransomware attacks. (Source: Datto)
  • Ransomware attacks against businesses tripled in 2016, with one attack every two minutes in Q1, and one every 40 seconds in Q3. (Source: Kaspersky)
  • 62 new ransomware families appeared in 2016. (Source: Kaspersky)

Kaspersky Security Bulletin

  • 2016 saw an 11-fold increase in the number of ransomware modifications, from 2,900 in the January-March period to 32,091 between July and September. (Source: Kaspersky)
  • 60 percent of malware payloads in Q1 2017 were ransomware. (SourceMalwarebytes)
  • A Cisco 2017 report states ransomware is growing 350 percent annually. (Source: Cisco)
  • Kaspersky notes that while ransomware is growing, creators may be getting less innovative. The security company stated that there were only 38 new ransomware families in 2017, compared to 61 in 2016. (SourceKaspersky)
  • According to a Kaspersky Lab survey, 34 percent of businesses hit with malware took a week or more to recover full access to their data. (SourceKaspersky)
  • Meanwhile, 36 percent paid the ransom, while 17 percent who paid never recovered their data even after paying. (SourceKaspersky)
  • Nearly 1 in 5 healthcare domain emails were fraudulent in 2017. (SourceProofpoint)
  • Cloud security company Carbon Black found that 90 percent of financial institutions reported being targeted by malware in 2017. (Source: BetaNews)
  • Proofpoint also detected 40 million ransomware attacks using malicious URLs or attachments against healthcare providers in Q3 2017. (Source: Proofpoint)
  • The number of new ransomware variants grew in 2017 from the previous year, with 350 new variants located. (SourceSymantec)

Ransomware predictions, 2018 and beyond

Unfortunately, ransomware isn’t going anywhere fast. Cyber-criminals have learned just how lucrative encrypting data can be. Other forms of security threats still exist, data breaches in particular, but criminals who want to extract an easy buck are regularly turning to readily-available ransomware packages. According to McAfee, ransomware grew 56 percent in the past four quarters.

McAfee Ransomware 2018 Threats and Predictions


There's reasons why you should protect your data; but what can we expect in 2018 and beyond? Here are several predictions:

  • Cybersecurity Ventures predicts ransomware will cost $6 trillion annually by 2021. (Source: Cybersecurity Ventures)
  • McAfee predicts some common ransomware targets will decrease. However, the company suggests cybercriminals will target less common and more vulnerable victims, such as individuals with high net values and connected devices (IoT). (Source: McAfee)
  • IT Security Guru predicts ransomware attacks against Linux will increase in 2018. (SourceIT Security Guru)
  • Palo Alto Networks predicts a noticeable increase in Mac ransomware this year. (SourcePalo Alto Networks)
  • MIT predicts cloud computing companies will see increased attacks against their systems. (Source: Computer Weekly)
  • 81 percent of cybersecurity experts believe there will be more ransomware attacks than ever in 2018. (SourceCIO Dive)

Nevertheless, as more reports roll in, it’s clear that ransomware is now the preferred medium of choice for cyber-criminals. As 2018 continues to progress, we’re likely to see reports from major players indicating that year-over-year growth in ransomware threats are increasing at an almost unheard-of pace.

What are you or your company doing to minimize risk and business down-times? Are you utilizing a Document Management Solution or Ransomware Software to protect yourself? How are you protecting your Business?

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