As we grapple with the rising tide of cyberattacks, the question isn’t if, but when, will your organization be targeted. Ransomware is one such threat, crippling systems and causing substantial downtime. Let’s explore the recovery process and why it’s anything but straightforward.
Averages Mislead the Real Impact of Ransomware
Statistics suggest the average downtime after a ransomware attack against U.S. organizations in late 2021 was 20 days. But these averages can obscure the reality for many companies who endure far longer periods of disruption.
“Downtime” is often a misnomer. It implies the complete restoration of operations. But it could take weeks, even months, to restore all affected systems and software post-attack.
Rising Ransom Payments
Recently, ransomware payments have shown a concerning uptrend. Over the past year, they have nearly doubled to $1.5m, according to a survey. Notably, the highest-earning organisations were the most likely to pay attackers.
The survey, conducted by Sophos, a British cybersecurity firm, found that the average ransomware payment rose from $812,000 the previous year. In fact, the average payment by UK organisations in 2023 was even higher than the global average, at $2.1m.
More than a quarter of the companies that made payments in the global survey handed over between $1m and $5m. High-earning firms were the most likely to fork out, with the average payout by companies with revenues of more than $5bn a year landing just under $2.5m.
The challenges encountered during ransomware attacks and subsequent recovery processes underscore several crucial insights. Initially, it is vital to recognize that system vulnerabilities can exist undetected for years.
Next, even the most robust passwords can be compromised without effective authentication protocols in place. Finally, outdated or ‘legacy’ software can pose significant obstacles during the recovery phase.
Read actual news articles which highlight the length of recovery after an ransomware attack:
Impact of Ransomware Attacks
The aftermath of a ransomware attack is not merely technical. Trust is a precious commodity, and data breaches can erode it quickly. For instance, customers’ trust in companies drops by 67% following a data breach.
Navigating the Aftermath
A ransomware attack’s duration can range from a few days to several months, with most companies falling into a two-to-four-week bracket. However, in 2022, recovery periods for vital infrastructure elements have shortened to about seven days under ideal conditions, provided that an experienced recovery team is in place.
Variables Affecting Recovery Time
The recovery timeframe is subject to several variables such as the type of ransomware, the size and pre-attack configuration of your IT infrastructure, and the experience level of your IT team.
Estimated Recovery Time from Ransomware Attacks Based on Severity
|Severity of Ransomware Attack||Estimated Recovery Time|
|Minor: Attack is quickly detected, and damage is limited. Good data backups are available.||1-7 days|
|Moderate: Attack spreads to significant portions of the network but is controlled before infecting the entire system. Good data backups are available.||1-2 weeks|
|Severe: Attack spreads widely, encrypting a large portion of data. Data backups are available but are partially affected.||2-4 weeks|
|Critical: Attack spreads throughout the network, and all data is encrypted. No recent or usable backups are available.||1-3 months+|
Cost of Ransomware Attacks
The economic impact of ransomware is hefty. In 2023, recovering from a ransomware attack cost businesses over $3.8 million. Furthermore, the downtime incurred by such attacks cost companies approximately $280,000 due to lower production and lost business opportunities.