How Long Does It Take a Company To Recover From a Ransomware Attack?

Estimated read time 4 min read

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.

Ransomware Recovery Journey
Ransomware Recovery Journey

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.

Unpacking Downtime

“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.

Critical Lessons

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 Finally, outdated or ‘legacy’ software can pose significant obstacles during the recovery phase.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.

Navigating the Aftermath
Navigating the Aftermath

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 AttackEstimated 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+
Please note, this table is a rough estimate and the actual recovery time may vary greatly depending on the specific circumstances of each ransomware attack.

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.

Reza Rafati

Reza Rafati, based in the Netherlands, is the founder of An industry professional providing insightful commentary on infosec, cybercrime, cyberwar, and threat intelligence, Reza dedicates his work to bolster digital defenses and promote cyber awareness.

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