NewsNovember 23, 2016 @ 1:00 PM

Security Chiefs Must Embrace the Risk Posed by the Ransomware Epidemic

Nearly half of organizations across the globe have fallen victim to a ransomware campaign in the past 12 months. Cybersecurity executives must respond to the challenge with an effective mix of strategy and technology.

That is the main conclusion drawn from a recent SentinelOne survey conducted by market research firm Vanson Bourne. The study also found that 80 percent of businesses suffered three or more attacks in 2016. Additionally, organizations hit by the ransomware epidemic suffer an average of six attacks a year.

Ransomware creates a significant problem for cybersecurity executives. The vast majority of respondents, to the tune of 94 percent, indicated that an attack has an impact on their organization. The challenge now is for IT and security professionals to turn the threat posed by the ransomware epidemic into an opportunity to establish better business practices.

Boosting Business Awareness

The good news for security executives is that attacks often create renewed business awareness of the cybersecurity challenge at hand. More than two-thirds of survey respondents said they plan to increase spending on IT security, and more than half will change their IT security strategy to focus on mitigation.

Eighty-five percent reported that their organizations were able to identify attackers. Almost all respondents — 95 percent — said they had gained insight into the motivations of cybercriminals as a result of a ransomware attack. The most common motives are financial gain (54 percent), simple disruption to a successful business (47 percent) and cyber espionage (42 percent). Employee information, financial data and customer information, meanwhile, are the types of knowledge most likely to be affected by an attack.

Building a Stronger Operation

The continued threat of ransomware, however, does leave some executives feeling perplexed. Evidence suggests business are willing to spend to help mitigate the security risk, yet the scale of the potential challenge can lead some business managers to question the success of their investments.

The Vanson Bourne research revealed that 54 percent of executives believe their organizations have lost faith in traditional cybersecurity techniques such as antivirus, Help Net Security reported. Seventy-one percent of respondents indicated that their business needs a new solution to meet the challenges associated with ransomware.

Jeremiah Grossman, chief of security strategy at SentinelOne, recognizes the scale of the technological challenge. “It’s clear that there’s an immediate need for a new generation of security technologies that can discover, stop and adapt to the new breed of threats and hacker strategies,” Grossman said.

The Ransomware Epidemic Is Spreading

The Proofpoint Threat Report released earlier this year also highlighted the ever-increasing risk posed by ransomware. The research suggested attackers’ exploits are more likely to be successful if security teams are unprepared.

The key message for cybersecurity executives is to use increased business awareness of the risk posed by ransomware to support a new, targeted approach that draws on the expert resources of trusted technology partners.

For the ransomware report, Vanson Bourne surveyed 500 cybersecurity decision-makers at organizations around the world with more than 1,000 employees. Interviews were conducted with 200 executives in the U.S., 100 in the U.K., 100 in France and 100 in Germany.

Share this Article:
Mark Samuels

Tech Journalist

Mark Samuels is an experienced business technology journalist with an outstanding track record in research. He specializes in the role of chief information officers (CIOs) and is adept at helping executives understand the business benefits of complex technologies. Key areas of interest include innovation, digital transformation, cloud computing, mobility, information security, ecommerce and big data. Mark has written articles for national newspapers, including The Guardian, The Times and The Sunday Times. He has also produced features and columns for a range of IT trade publications, such as Computer Weekly, ZDNet, Tech Republic, IT Pro, Channel Pro, CBR and The Register.