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Thursday, 17 October 2019 10:54

Windows ransomware a major problem for SMBs globally: survey Featured

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Windows ransomware a major problem for SMBs globally: survey Pixabay

Windows ransomware has become a major problem for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), a survey by Datto, a company that provides IT solutions for managed service providers (MSPs), shows, with 91% of MSPs in Australia and New Zealand reporting attacks on SMBs in the last two years.

While the company understandably did not mention operating systems when it came to ransomware statistics, it was abundantly clear from the names of the ransomware listed (graphic below) that no other operating system other than Windows was under attack.

For the fourth year running, the well-known CryptoLocker ransomware was the biggest scourge with 66% of MSPs reporting attacks by this strain.

ransomware datto oct2019

More than two years after it burst on to the scene, WannaCry is still haunting Windows users, with 49% of MSPs reporting attacks by this strain which incorporates an exploit developed by the American National Security Agency and leaked on the Web in 2016. CryptoWall (34%) and Locky (24%) are other well-known names of ransomware that prey on Microsoft's operating systems.

The survey, titled Global State of the Channel Ransomware Report, took in data from 1400 MSPs, Datto's partners and clients from around the globe. The company has its headquarters in Connecticut in the US and offices in the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Canada, Australia, China, and Singapore.

Ninety-two percent of MSPs found that SMBs who had a business continuity and disaster recovery solution in place were able to avoid significant downtime after a ransomware attack, with recovery taking 24 hours or less.

Ransomware was far and away the most prominent malware threat, with 85% of the MSPs saying that this was the case with SMBs. In the first half of the calendar year, 56% of MSPs reported attacks on clients while 15% reported multiple attacks in a single day.

The effects of ransomware ranged from loss of business productivity (reported by 64% of MSPs), business-threatening downtime (45%), lost data or devices (34%), infection spreading on a network (33%), decreased client profitability (29%), and paying a ransom to recover files (24%).

datto two

The cost of downtime had risen by a factor of 200% from 2018, the survey said, with the cost in 2019 being US$141,000 compared to US$46,800 the previous year. Compared to the average ransom request of US$5900, the downtime cost was 23 times greater.

“Ransomware attacks most often succeed through very sophisticated phishing techniques – for example, when someone clicks on something they shouldn’t and the malware infiltrates their contact list – the attackers then use those credentials to exploit further,” said Daniel Johns, head of Services at leading Australian ICT company, ASI Solutions.

The survey found that software-as-a-service applications were also a prime target for ransomware attacks, with MSPs globally reporting a 15% increase in the attacks within Office 365 year-on-year.

The highest rate globally was in Australia and New Zealand, with 37% of MSPs reporting attacks on SaaS applications – including Office 365, Dropbox and the G-Suite, a 9% increase from the global average of 28%.

“It is no surprise that the frequency and sophistication of ransomware attacks against SMBs in Australia and New Zealand is on the rise, but recording the highest rate globally of reported attacks in this region is a wake-up call for SMBs,” said James Bergl, regional director, APAC Datto.

Graphics: courtesy Datto

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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