It takes just half a second to infect a computer with ransomware, but affected companies deal with the fallout for months. The FBI estimates that more than 4,000 ransomware attacks occur each day in the U.S. – representing a 300% increase over 2015 alone. What's more, cybercriminals can get started for just a small investment: Forbes reports that one $39 program encrypts files, deploys from a variety of file formats, and deletes files at random intervals when the ransom isn't paid. Yet the price for companies affected by ransomware is much steeper. In addition to the ransom itself, companies facing ransomware are often unprepared for the true cost of dealing with attackers, getting systems back online and handling potential brand damage and lost productivity.
The Ransom is Expensive – But It's the Least Important Cost
Ransomware is a strain of malware that encrypts data on organizations' computers, servers or user devices, locking them down, before demanding payment of a ransom – often in Bitcoin or another non-traceable currency – in exchange for decrypting the data. According to the FBI, the costs of the ransom plus staff time in recovering the data averages about $330,000 per incident. The ransom itself varies, but is just a fraction of the costs that organizations face. One high-profile case required a Hollywood-based hospital to pay $17,000 to regain access to its data. Yet the financial outlay from paying the actual ransom typically costs far less than collateral damage.
Quantifying the Real Costs of Ransomware Attacks
Employees' productivity declines: Lost employee productivity is a major ransomware cost. When your team is unable to access email, customer information, and other essential systems, they're not able to get their work done and keep your business moving forward. According to the Aberdeen Group, the cost of downtime per hour ranges from $8,581 for small businesses to an astronomical $686,250 for enterprises. An outage of just one day can range between $205,944 and $16,470,000. Email continuity systems can keep your employees connected and working even during an attack.
Customers' access impacted: If locked down systems or encrypted data is linked to the customer experience, the financial damages can be further reaching. From brand damage to the inability to get customers what they need, lack of access to data can bring client-facing operations to a grinding halt. For example, in a healthcare setting clinical staff may be unable to access treatment or prescription data and need to send patients to another facility. Banks may be unable to accept deposits or provide accurate balance information via online banking portals. Customers who find out about ransomware attacks can develop negative brand associations and question both employee judgment and infrastructure security. It's hard to quantify the losses, but stock prices can drop and customers can take their business to the competition.
Potential regulatory and compliance fines: In certain industries, compromised data can be seen a security failing. Each breach or ransomware attack can lead to regulatory fines and penalties, such as in the healthcare industry or in banking. In healthcare, for example, HIPPA-covered organizations can face fines between $10,000 and $25,000 per incident – up to a maximum of $1 million per year. Nominal investments in the right solutions and employee training can help prevent ransomware attacks and recoup the investment many times over.
The cost of recovery and the potential for data damage: Restoring data after a ransomware attack isn't fail-proof or inexpensive. Key files may be deleted or inadvertently damaged during the restoration process. Bugs in the decryption software can lead to data losses. Even if decryption proceeds smoothly, businesses have to invest in IT staff time to get back online. Often a ransomware event also signals a complete forensic analysis of the current setup, network vulnerabilities and investments and strategies to prevent future issues which are time-consuming and potentially expensive.
Your team works hard to attract and serve your customers. Don't let a ransomware attack derail your business and have a negative impact on your bottom line. Mimecast's layered solution brings together email protection, business continuity and data replication capabilities into a single cloud solution that helps you protect against the threat of ransomware.
Contact us today to learn more.