The Human Cost of Ransomware

Posted 11.7.22 by
Tommy McShane

The Human Cost of Ransomware


According to a recent study, ransomware is now the most common type of malware, with over one-third of organizations reporting an attack in the past year. And the hackers aren’t just going after big businesses – individuals and small businesses are also being targeted.

Even more concerning, these attacks are becoming more sophisticated and more complex to protect against. So what can be done to stop the ransomware epidemic? Let’s look at the human cost of these attacks and how we can better protect ourselves against them.


1. Payments to the Attacker

Payments to the attacker do not guarantee the user will get their files back. There is also no assurance that the attacker will give you the decryption key, even if you pay the ransom.

In some cases, victims have made payments only to never hear from the attacker again. In other cases, victims have received a decryption key, but it didn’t work. Also, paying the ransom could put the victim in danger.

For example, if an attacker knows that the victim works for a specific company, they could threaten to release sensitive information about the company unless a ransom is paid. Paying a ransom also encourages attackers to continue using ransomware since they know there is a profit potential. This could lead to more people being victimized in the future.


2. Disruption of Operations

In May 2017, the WannaCry malware hit over 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries in what is now considered the biggest ransomware attack in history. The U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) was one of the most high-profile victims, with 19,000 appointments cancelled and operations postponed as a result.

In March 2018, the United States city of Atlanta was hit hard by ransomware. The attackers demanded $52,000 in Bitcoin to unlock the city’s systems, and although the mayor refused to pay, the attack still cost the city an estimated $2.6 million in recovery costs.

These are just a few examples of the massive disruptions that ransomware attacks can cause. In addition to the direct costs of paying the ransom and restoring systems, indirect costs are associated with lost productivity, revenue, and damage to reputation.


3. Damage to Your Customer Relationships and Reputation

Ransomware doesn’t just encrypt your files – it can also damage your customer relationships and reputation. If customers’ data is encrypted, they may not be able to access important information or services. This can lead to frustration and a loss of trust in your company. In some cases, customers may even take legal action against you.


4. Costs of Increased Security Following The Attack

The WannaCry ransomware attack was a powerful reminder of the importance of data security. In the wake of the attack, many businesses increased their security measures, including investing in new software and hiring more staff. However, these increased security measures come at a cost.

According to a recent survey, the average cost of increased security following a ransomware attack is $1.2 million. This figure includes the cost of new software, hiring additional staff, and training existing staff on how to use the latest software. For small businesses, this figure can be devastating.

In addition to the direct costs of increased security, there are indirect costs associated with a ransomware attack. These indirect costs can include lost productivity, damaged reputation, and customer churn.


The Importance of Providing Your Employees With Cybersecurity Training

It’s easy to only focus on the external impacts of a ransomware attack. Still, it’s important not to forget the stress it puts on your employees. Your staff is already motivated to do their best and serve your customers well. But during a crisis like a ransomware attack, you’ll be amazed by how they go above and beyond to respond to the attack. They’ll find ways to work around any systems or technology that have been compromised, so they can keep being productive.

If you’re not careful, ransomware can cause your business a lot of trouble. Not only will it take weeks to recover your applications and data, but also during this time, you’ll be making your employees work overtime.

This can lead to employee burnout, which in turn causes delays in important projects, increased employee turnover rates, and slower growth overall. After an attack, it is crucial to praise your staff for their hard work during trying times. Furthermore, consider giving salaried workers bonuses or extra days off as compensation for going above and beyond during the crisis.

The difficult-to-quantify cost is important, as it provides a reason to invest in security and disaster solutions that would reduce the chances of ransomware attacks and aid in recovery if one were to occur.


Bottom Line

Ransomware is malicious software that can severely damage your company. The direct and indirect costs of an attack can be significant, and the reputational damage can be long-lasting.

To protect your business, it’s important to invest in data security and provide employees with cybersecurity training. By taking these precautions, you’ll be better prepared to handle a ransomware attack – should one occur. The professionals at Otava are experts in reducing the threat of ransomware, so your employees can focus on serving your customers.


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