More than half (56%) of ransomware victims paid the ransom to restore access to their data last year, according to a global survey of 15,000 consumers conducted by global security company, Kaspersky. Yet for 17% of the people who paid, that did not guarantee the return of their stolen data.
Ransomware is a type of malware which criminals use to extort money. It holds data for ransom using encryption or by locking users out of their devices. Kaspersky’s report, “Consumer appetite versus action: The state of data privacy amid growing digital dependency,” highlights consumer experience with this growing cyber threat.
The percentage of victims who paid the ransom to restore access to their data last year was highest among those aged 35-44; with two-thirds (65%) having paid. That compares to just over half (52%) of those aged 16-24 and only 11% of those over the age of 55.
Whether they paid or not, only 29% of all victims were able to restore all their encrypted or blocked files following an attack. Half (50%) lost at least some files, 32% lost a significant amount, and 18% lost a small number of files. Meanwhile, 13% who did experience such an incident lost almost all their data.
Cases of paying a ransom among users who experienced ransomware infection, by age breakdown
“This data shows we have seen a significant proportion of consumers paying a ransom for their data over the past 12 months,” said Marina Titova, Head of Consumer Product Marketing at Kaspersky. “But handing over money doesn’t guarantee the return of data, and only encourages cybercriminals to continue the practice. Therefore, we always recommend that those affected by ransomware do not pay as that money supports this scheme to thrive. Instead consumers should make sure to invest in initial protection and security for their devices and regularly back up all data. This will make the attack itself less appealing or lucrative to cybercriminals, reducing the use of the practice, and presenting a safer future for web users.”
At present, around four-in-ten (39%) of those surveyed claimed they were aware of ransomware over the past 12 months. It’s important that this number rises as remote working becomes more prolific. To help consumers protect themselves as they learn more about this form of cyberattack, it is vital that they understand what to look out for, and what to do if they encounter ransomware.
Kaspersky recommends the following:
- Do not pay the ransom if a device has been locked. Paying extortionate ransoms only encourages cybercriminals to continue their practice. Instead, contact your local law enforcement agency and report the attack
- Try to find out the name of the ransomware Trojan. This information can help cybersecurity experts decrypt the threat and retain access to your files
- Visit kaspersky.com to find the latest decryptors, ransomware removal tools, and information on ransomware protection
- Avoid clicking links in spam emails or on unfamiliar websites and do not open email attachments from senders you do not trust
- Never insert USBs or other removal storage devices into your computer if you do not know where they came from
Protect your computer from ransomware with a comprehensive internet security solution like Kaspersky Internet Security
- Backup your devices so your data will remain safe if you do experience a ransomware attack