A new survey has found that 52% of small and medium-sized business owners in Ireland have paid a ransom to a cybercriminal. The average ransom amount paid was €22,712. The survey of more than 200 business owners in firms of up to 150 employees was commissioned by Typetec and conducted by independent research company, Censuswide.
The research found that more than a quarter (27%) of those businesses who paid a ransom failed to have all affected data restored. Furthermore, 60% of business owners reported that sensitive data was leaked on the dark web despite paying a ransom. A majority (57%) of small business owners also revealed that they keep a cryptocurrency reserve in case they are needed to pay a ransom.
When asked about their biggest fears in terms of cybersecurity, loss of customers (37%) ranked first, followed by loss of employees (34%) and sensitive data being made available on the dark web (33%).
Furthermore, more than a quarter (27%) of company owners fear going out of business in the event of a successful cyber-attack. Despite these findings and the increased awareness of ransomware and other security threats, only 39% of SMEs in Ireland consider themselves to be very well protected from cyber-attacks.
Commenting on the research, Chief Technology Officer at Typetec, Trevor Coyle said, "Understanding the current security posture of your business is critical and conducting outdated audits is no longer an effective way of measurement, this will lead to a false sense of protection. As the survey results demonstrate, paying out ransoms in response to cyberattacks do not guarantee a successful restoration of data or systems, and it also encourages future attacks."
He added, "It’s so important that businesses owners become proactive rather than reactive when it comes to protecting their customers, their employees and ultimately their businesses. These threats are not going away. A clearly defined and well managed cybersecurity strategy - particularly in an increasingly hybrid working world - is an absolute necessity for businesses of all sizes."