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Ransomware Beats Viruses, Spyware as Leading Threat to SMBs

By Jeff Goldman | Posted November 19, 2018
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Ransomware beats viruses and spyware as the most significant threat to small and medium-sized businesses, according to the results of a recent Datto survey of 2,400 managed service providers supporting SMBs.

Over 55 percent of managed service providers said their clients had been hit by a ransomware attack in the first six months of 2018, and 35 percent said their clients had been hit multiple times in a single day (up from 26 percent in the first six months of 2017).

According to survey respondents, phishing emails are the top ransomware delivery method, followed by malicious websites, malicious ads and clickbait. 

Key SMB vulnerabilities to ransomware, according to managed service providers, include a lack of end-user cybersecurity training (33 percent), poor user practices or gullibility (28 percent), and weak passwords/access management (28 percent).

Fully 92 percent of managed service providers expect the number of attacks to continue at current or increased rates — almost 90 percent of managed service providers are “highly concerned” about the ransomware threat, but just 36 percent say their clients feel the same way.

Underestimating the Threat

“The number one threat for SMB CEOs is thinking they are immune for some reason,” Michael Drake, CEO of managed service provider masterIT, said in a statement. “They think they don’t have anything the hackers want, so it’s not worth the price to protect themselves.”

“When something happens, they’re shocked by the cost to get everything back up and running,” Drake added. “It’s mind-blowing.”

The average ransomware attack is 10 times more expensive than the ransom itself — the average ransom requested is $4,300, but ransomware attacks cost businesses an average of $46,800.

In addition to the financial impact, 67 percent of managed service providers said victims experienced a loss of business productivity following a successful attack, and more than half experienced business-threatening downtime.

In many cases, having security solutions in place didn’t help — 85 percent of managed service providers said ransomware victims had anti-virus software installed, 65 said victims had email/spam filters in place, and 29 percent said victims had pop-up blockers in use.

A Wider Range of Targets

While Apple devices used to provide some sense of security, that’s no longer the case — there was a five-fold increase in the number of managed service providers reporting ransomware attacks on Mac OS and iOS platforms over the past year.

Ransomware infections in the cloud are also increasing. Among managed service providers reporting cloud-based malware infections, 49 percent said Office 365 was the target, followed by G Suite at 22 percent.

Still, just 24 percent of ransomware attacks are reported to authorities, the survey found.

“It’s time to think differently — businesses large and small should plan for a ransomware attack,” Datto CISO Ryan Weeks said in a statement. “That way they are equipped to respond when it happens.”

“There are immediate steps that companies can and should take to increase IT resilience and prevent against future attacks,” Weeks added. “Integral to those steps include end-user training, endpoint protection, and an intelligent backup.”


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