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Damaging effect on banking and insurance extends far beyond data loss, and lack of knowledge means finance firms are at risk of immeasurable loss

New research from Timico, an end-to-end, managed cloud service provider in partnership with Datto , a business continuity solutions provider, reveals that the effects of Ransomware attacks on finance companies, cause unquantifiable financial cost and immeasurable data loss. Yet, despite this, there is an alarming lack of awareness when it comes to being prepared, with over half of UK banking and insurance firms having no official Ransomware policy, to guide employees on what to do in the event of an attack.

Ransomware is a malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. It is the biggest global cyber threat to business with reported incidents increasing in frequency and complexity and the financial demands escalating. The National Cyber Security Centre weekly threat report predicts that new innovations in Ransomware are already happening, such as targeting internet-connected devices to create a “Ransomware of Things.”

60 seconds or less to shutdown

The research report entitled ‘The Reality of Ransomware,’ polled 1,000 UK organisations including 250 in the banking and insurance sectors. All those polled have been a victim of Ransomware, and many had been attacked within the last 12 months.

Nearly two thirds (62%) of finance firms said that the effects of an attack were almost instant with data systems going from fully functional to essentially useless within seconds and minutes. A quarter (25%) reported lockdown within a few minutes, with 17% saying it took just one minute and 20%, just a few seconds.

The drastic effect on business

The Timico and Datto research found that, for the majority (89%) of banks and insurance companies that have been victim to Ransomware, systems were down for a week or more, causing £1,000s in financial damage a day to most businesses.

Nearly half (43%) had to endure their data down for more than a month, with 19% reporting their data as ‘unrecoverable.’

But retrieving data is becoming increasingly more difficult for organisations. The ransom fees, demanded by cybercriminals before they will unlock the victim’s computer system, are rapidly rising. More than a quarter (26%) of finance firms paid over £5,000 to retrieve their data.

The true cost of Ransomware is a financial abyss

Knowing the extent of the cost of the attack on the business is often unknown. A third (33%) of banks and insurance firms could not even estimate the overall financial cost to the business of the Ransomware attack, deeming it ‘unquantifiable’. Over half (56%) of respondents in the finance sector estimated that the attack had cost the business between £1,000 to £2,000 per day in lost revenue, due to its data systems being down.

Lack of guidance leaving organisations vulnerable to loss 

Despite Ransomware being well reported as one of the biggest, evolving threats to companies world-wide, many staff within UK finance organisations would have no idea what to do in the event of an attack.  Timico and Datto found that over half (55%) have no official Ransomware policy in place to guide staff on what to do when an attack occurs, leaving them vulnerable to huge and unquantifiable financial and data loss.

Nabeil Samara, Chief Digital Officer at Timico says. “These research findings clearly show that the speed of a ransomware attack is almost instant, while the effects on the organisation can be far reaching.

“It’s not just a case of the data loss and financial cost to the business. A ransomware attack can have a debilitating effect, with long-term consequences across the business, with the company even breaching terms of any regulatory bodies that the business holds themselves accountable to.

“The Government has now launched its The Cyber Schools Programme but education needs to extend beyond the classroom and into the workplace.  It’s critical that all organisations, no matter what size, acknowledge the increasing and evolving threat of Ransomware as attacks become ever more frequent and instil a policy, that is regularly updated, to educate staff on what to do if the business comes under attack. Protection and communication are key to the difference between success or failure and will save the business infinite costs in the long run.”

Andrew Stuart, Managing Director, Datto EMEA, says, “The high quantity of strains and constant evolution mean traditional signature-based anti-virus aren’t effective against this threat. A Backup and Disaster Recovery solution which utilises the Cloud can effectively defend against ransomware. This creates regular encrypted backups of your data, and maintains prior versions. In the case of a ransomware attack, businesses can easily ‘roll back’ their data to an uninfected version, so no ransom needs to be paid. And of course, this second copy has the added benefit of preventing data loss via accidental deletion.’

1. Get senior stakeholder buy in, so all company Ransomware prevention and response policies are communicated and enforced from the top.
2. Be proactive with your backup policy, and above all test on a regular basis.
3. Educate your users not to open or click on suspicious looking emails or attachments.
4. Up to date antivirus software should be considered essential.
5. Don’t get complacent – audit your historic backups, imperative if you have a multi-vendor solution in place.
6. Understand your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) i.e. how long can you afford to be down for?
7. Understand your Recovery Point Objective (RPO) i.e. how much data can you afford to lose?
8. Encourage your users to keep their work and personal data and apps separate.
9. Don’t pay the ransom! It’s still highly unlikely you will get your data back, or if you do it will be in unreadable format.
10. Do report the crime to the police, many don’t and as such attacks go under the radar…don’t let cyber criminals get away with it!


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