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How much money does ransomware make?

Ransomware attacks have been a lucrative business model for criminals, with large payouts. 
The average ransom payment is almost a quarter-million dollars, according to a 2021 IDC survey which found that one-third of organizations around the world were ransomware victims over the previous year.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a malware program that encrypts files on computer systems, making them unusable. Attackers typically threaten to either permanently lock down compromised systems or to release sensitive data, if a ransom is not paid. 

• An increased attack surface, lack of security awareness, and poor cyber hygiene make many organizations an easy target. 
• Improved encryption and the popularity of untraceable cryptocurrencies facilitate the execution of ransomware. 
Ransomware gangs often operate as organized crime, targeting certain countries or sectors.
• Ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) models also help to propagate this type of attack. 

The U.S. government considers ransomware a growing national security threat and has launched a series of initiatives to combat ransomware attacks, including the StopRansomware.gov website which provides education about how to prevent and mitigate ransomware attacks.

Cyber ransom payments are controversial

According to Gartner, “The percentage of nation-states passing legislation to regulate ransomware payments, fines, and negotiations will rise to 30 percent by the end of 2025, compared to less than one percent in 2021.” In the U.S., government organizations such as the FBI and  the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) advise victims to report the incidents to law enforcement and not pay ransoms. Still, there were large payouts in 2021. For example:

  • Insurer CNA Financial paid a $40 million ransom. 
  • Meat supplier JBS paid an $11 million ransom. 

High-profile cases make the headlines, but cyberattacks on small businesses account for about 75% of all ransomware incidents, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Ransomware costs are on the rise

By 2031, ransomware costs will reach $265 billion annually. But the financial damage of ransomware are only part of the picture; it can also cause reputational and operational damage, including:

  • Downtime and operational disruption
  • Legal settlements and high insurance costs
  • Loss of trust from investors, clients, and employees

How to prevent ransomware attacks

No organization is immune to cyberattacks, but every organization can take steps to strengthen their defenses to minimize the risks, including:

  • Get complete visibility into your environment through comprehensive asset discovery and inventory. 
  • Continuously monitor traffic on your network to detect any anomalies in asset or user behavior.
  • Implement Zero Trust policies and network segmentation. 
  • Automate policy enforcement to secure your data and halt attacks.
  • Promote cybersecurity best practices such as multifactor authentication and patch management.
  • Have a plan in place for quick response in case of a ransomware attack.

Need help? Discover how organizations leverage the Armis Platform to build cyber resilience. Book a demo now.