Nearly two-thirds of India-based companies victims of ransomware attack: Report

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In an alarming statistic that describes the State of Ransomware in 2023, it has been revealed that 73 per cent of India-based organisations surveyed by cybersecurity company Sophos were victims of ransomware attacks.

A Ransomware attack refers to an incursion by malicious software to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid to the individual(s) behind such an attack. 

Sophos told WION that it surveyed 300 Indian companies – in sectors such as Manufacturing and Production, Retail, Financial Services, Education, Technology and Telecom — for its annual State of Ransomware report. This is a tenth of its global sample size of 3,000 firms surveyed between January and March 2023. 

“With almost three-quarters of Indian organisations reporting that they have been victimised by ransomware criminals, a lot of work needs to be done,” Chester Wisniewski, field Chief Technology Officer at Sophos said in an official statement. 

Overall, the UK-headquartered cybersecurity major stated in its report that 46 per cent of organisations surveyed that had their data encrypted, in fact, paid the ransom. 

Asked by WION if paying the ransom is emerging as a quick fix to retrieve the hacked data for companies who fall victim to ransomware attacks, Wisniewski said that while it’s hard to say why so many organisations are paying the ransom, a number of factors are in play when a company is attacked by ransomware.

“It is likely a combination of lack of backups, the belief that they will recover more quickly and keeping the hack private to avoid scrutiny from regulators, the stock market and potential clients,” Wisniewski said.

ALSO WATCH | WION Fineprint: Rising ransomware attacks in India

Wisniewski also pointed to a general lack of faith among victim companies that the bad actors responsible for such attacks will ever be apprehended.

“There is a general lack of faith that the bad actors will be apprehended, as most are in Russia and are unlikely to be arrested or extradited, but it is unclear if that is what is driving the ransom payments,” Wisniewski told WION over email.

Rising incident costs due to lack of backups

Reflecting on the importance of investing in organisational backup infrastructure, the State of Ransomware 2023 report found that when organisations paid a ransom to get their data decrypted, “they ended up additionally doubling up their recovery costs ($750,000 in recovery costs for those who paid ransoms versus $375,000 for organisations that used backups to get data back).”

Effective ransomware defence: Companies must be on alert ’24/7′

Pointing to the sheer scale of ransomware attacks faced by companies, Wisniewski said that the key to lowering this is to “work aggressively to lower both, time to detect and time to respond.”

“Human-led threat hunting is very effective at stopping these criminals in their tracks, but alerts must be investigated, and criminals evicted from systems in hours and days, not weeks and months. Experienced analysts can recognise the patterns of an active intrusion in minutes and spring into action. This is likely the difference between the quarter who stay safe and the three quarters who do not. Organisations must be on alert 24×7 to mount an effective defence these days,” Wisniewski added.

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